Induction chemotherapy plus three-dimensional conformal radiation therapy in the definitive treatment of locally advanced non-small-cell lung cancer

S Sim, K E Rosenzweig, R Schindelheim, K K Ng, S A Leibel
International Journal of Radiation Oncology, Biology, Physics 2001 November 1, 51 (3): 660-5

PURPOSE: To evaluate our institution's experience using chemotherapy in conjunction with three-dimensional conformal radiation therapy (3D-CRT).

METHODS AND MATERIALS: From 1991 to 1998, 152 patients with Stage III non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC) were treated with 3D-CRT at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. A total of 137 patients (90%) were surgically staged with either thoracotomy or mediastinoscopy. The remainder were staged radiographically. Seventy patients were treated with radiation therapy alone, and 82 patients received induction chemotherapy before radiation. The majority of chemotherapy-treated patients received a platinum-containing regimen. Radiation was delivered with a 3D conformal technique using CT-based treatment planning. The median dose in the radiation alone group was 70.2 Gy, while in the combined modality group, it was 64.8 Gy.

RESULTS: The median follow-up time was 30.5 months among survivors. Stage IIIB disease was present in 36 patients (51%) in the radiation-alone group and 57 patients (70%) in the combined-modality group. Thirty-nine patients had poor prognostic factors (KPS < 70 or weight loss > 5%), and they were equally distributed between the two groups. The median survival times for the radiation-alone and the combined-modality groups were 11.7 months and 18.1 months, respectively (p = 0.001). The 2-year rates of local control in the radiation-alone and combined-modality groups were 35.4% and 43.1%, respectively (p = 0.1). Grade 3 or worse nonhematologic toxicity occurred in 20% of the patients receiving radiation alone and in 16% of those receiving chemotherapy and radiation. Overall, there were only 4 cases of Grade 3 or worse esophagitis.

CONCLUSION: Despite more Stage IIIB patients in the combined-modality group, the addition of chemotherapy to 3D-CRT produced a survival advantage over 3D-CRT alone in Stage III NSCLC without a concomitant increase in toxicity. Chemotherapy thus appears to be beneficial, even in patients who are receiving higher doses of radiation therapy than are typically given with conventional techniques. Because locoregional failure remains a major challenge in patients with advanced disease, 3D-CRT in conjunction with chemotherapy may allow safe treatment to the dose levels required to further enhance local control.

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