JOURNAL ARTICLE

Adjuvant radiotherapy and chemotherapy for stage II or IIIA non-small-cell lung cancer after complete resection. Provincial Lung Cancer Disease Site Group

D M Logan, C A Lochrin, G Darling, A Eady, T E Newman, W K Evans
Cancer Prevention & Control: CPC, Prévention & Contrôle en Cancérologie: PCC 1997, 1 (5): 366-78
9765759

GUIDELINE QUESTIONS: 1) Does the use of postoperative, adjuvant radiotherapy or chemotherapy, alone or in combination, improve survival rates among patients with completely resected, pathologically confirmed stage II or IIIA non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC)? 2) Does the use of radiotherapy reduce the risk of local recurrence among patients with completely resected stage II or IIIA NSCLC?

OBJECTIVE: To make recommendations about the use of postoperative adjuvant radiotherapy and chemotherapy in the treatment of patients with completely resected stage II or IIIA NSCLC.

OUTCOMES: Overall survival and disease-free survival are the primary outcomes of interest. A secondary outcome of interest is local disease control. PERSPECTIVES (VALUES): Evidence was collected and reviewed by 4 members of the Lung Cancer Disease Site Group (Lung Cancer DSG) of the Cancer Care Ontario Practice Guidelines Initiative. The evidence-based recommendation resulting from this review was approved by the Lung Cancer DSG, which comprises medical oncologists, radiation oncologists, pathologists, surgeons and a medical sociologist. A community representative was present at 1 meeting during which the recommendation was discussed.

QUALITY OF EVIDENCE: One meta-analysis and 22 randomized controlled trials (RCTs) were published between 1962 and 1996. The RCTs compared surgery plus radiotherapy with surgery alone; surgery plus adjuvant chemotherapy with surgery alone; surgery plus radiotherapy with surgery plus both chemotherapy and radiotherapy. Many studies included patients with stage IIIB NSCLC; some included patients with incompletely resected stage I NSCLC or with small cell lung cancer (maximum 10%). Older studies used chemotherapy or radiation that would now be considered inferior according to current standards of practice.

BENEFITS: There was no survival benefit with adjuvant radiotherapy alone, although 3 RCTs reported a reduction in the rate of local recurrence among patients treated with adjuvant radiotherapy. The meta-analysis showed that postoperative, cisplatin-based chemotherapy alone reduced the relative risk of death by 13% (hazard ratio [HR] 0.87, 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.74 to 1.02); in combination with radiotherapy it resulted in a 6% reduction in the relative risk of death (HR 0.94, 95% CI 0.79 to 1.11).

HARMS: Postoperative adjuvant chemotherapy with alkylating agents was found in the meta-analysis to increase the relative risk of death by 15%. A study involving prolonged adjuvant chemotherapy (busulfan or cytoxan daily for 2 years) reported that 4 of 726 patients had hematologic malignancies. In 1 study, only 53% of patients received all 4 cycles of chemotherapy with cyclophosphamide-doxorubicin-cisplatin (CAP); in another, 22% of patients refused therapy with CAP because of nausea and vomiting.

PRACTICE GUIDELINE: There is evidence from RCTs that postoperative radiotherapy reduces rates of local recurrence by 11% to 18% (or 1.6 to 19-fold) among patients with completely resected, pathologically confirmed stage II or IIIA NSCLC. Therefore, if the outcome of interest is a reduction in the frequency of local tumour recurrence, radiotherapy is recommended. However, there is no evidence of a survival benefit from postoperative radiotherapy alone. In a meta-analysis, postoperative chemotherapy with or without radiotherapy resulted in a slightly reduced (statistically nonsignificant) risk of death among patients with surgically resected stage II or IIIA NSCLC. The survival benefit was small and achieved only with chemotherapy regimens that produced substantial toxic effects and that are no longer used. Newer chemotherapy regimens are currently being evaluated as adjuvant therapy, but there is insufficient evidence of benefit at this time to recommend them. Therefore, if the outcome of interest is survival, there is insufficient evidence to recommend current chemotherapy regimens with or without radiotherapy as postoperative, adjuvant the

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