JOURNAL ARTICLE

Predictors of radiation-induced esophageal toxicity in patients with non-small-cell lung cancer treated with three-dimensional conformal radiotherapy

Anurag K Singh, Mary Ann Lockett, Jeffrey D Bradley
International Journal of Radiation Oncology, Biology, Physics 2003 February 1, 55 (2): 337-41
12527046

PURPOSE: To evaluate the incidence and clinical/dosimetric predictors of acute and late Radiation Therapy Oncology Group Grade 3-5 esophageal toxicity in patients with non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC) treated with definitive three-dimensional conformal radiotherapy (3D-CRT).

METHODS AND MATERIALS: We retrospectively reviewed the charts of 207 consecutive patients with NSCLC who were treated with high-dose, definitive 3D-CRT between March 1991 and December 1998. This population consisted of 107 men and 100 women. The median age was 67 years (range 31-90). The following patient and treatment parameters were studied: age, gender, race, performance status, sequential chemotherapy, concurrent chemotherapy, presence of subcarinal nodes, pretreatment weight loss, mean dose to the entire esophagus, maximal point dose to the esophagus, and percentage of volume of esophagus receiving >55 Gy. All doses are reported without heterogeneity corrections. The median prescription dose to the isocenter in this population was 70 Gy (range 60-74) delivered in 2-Gy daily fractions. All patients were treated once daily. Acute and late esophageal toxicities were graded by Radiation Therapy Oncology Group criteria. Patient and clinical/dosimetric factors were coded and correlated with acute and late Grade 3-5 esophageal toxicity using univariate and multivariate regression analyses.

RESULTS: Of 207 patients, 16 (8%) developed acute (10 patients) or late (13 patients) Grade 3-5 esophageal toxicity. Seven patients had both acute and late Grade 3-5 esophageal toxicity. One patient died (Grade 5 esophageal toxicity) of late esophageal perforation. Concurrent chemotherapy, maximal point dose to the esophagus >58 Gy, and a mean dose to the entire esophagus >34 Gy were significantly associated with a risk of Grade 3-5 esophageal toxicity on univariate analysis. Concurrent chemotherapy and maximal point dose to the esophagus >58 Gy retained significance on multivariate analysis. Of 207 patients, 53 (26%) received concurrent chemotherapy. Fourteen (88%) of the 16 patients who developed Grade 3-5 esophageal toxicity had received concurrent chemotherapy (p = 0.0001, Pearson's chi-square test). No case of Grade 3-5 esophageal toxicity occurred in patients who received a maximal point dose to the esophagus of <58 Gy (p = 0.0001, Fisher's exact test, two-tail). Only 2 patients developed Grade 3-5 esophageal toxicity in the absence of concurrent chemotherapy; both received a maximal esophageal point dose >69 Gy. All assessable patients who developed Grade 3-5 esophageal toxicity had a mean dose to the entire esophagus >34 Gy (p = 0.0351, Pearson's chi-square test). However, the mean dose was not predictive on multivariate analysis.

CONCLUSION: Concurrent chemotherapy and the maximal esophageal point dose were significantly associated with a risk of Grade 3-5 esophageal toxicity in patients with NSCLC treated with high-dose 3D-CRT. In patients who received concurrent chemotherapy, the threshold maximal esophageal point dose for Grade 3-5 esophageal toxicity was 58 Gy. An insufficient number of patients developed Grade 3-5 esophageal toxicity in the absence of chemotherapy to allow a valid statistical analysis of the relationship between the maximal esophageal point dose and esophagitis.

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