Promising survival with three-dimensional conformal radiation therapy for non-small cell lung cancer.
PURPOSE: Local failure is a major obstacle to the cure of locally advanced non small-cell lung cancer. Three-dimensional conformal radiation therapy (3-DCRT) selects optimal treatment parameters to increase dose to tumor and reduce normal tissue dose, potentially representing an enhancement of the therapeutic ratio of radiation therapy for lung cancer. We performed this analysis of 45 non-small cell lung cancer patients treated with 3-DCRT alone, to evaluate the ability of computer derived lung dose volume histograms to predict serious pulmonary toxicity, to assess the feasibility of this approach, and to examine the resulting survival. METHODS: There were 28 males (62%) and 17 females (38%). The median age was 65 (range: 38-82). Tumor stage was Stage I/II in 13%, IIIa in 42%, and IIIb in 44%. The histology was squamous in 44%, adenocarcinoma in 36%, and other non-small cell histologies in the others. Only 47% of patients. had combined favorable prognostic factors (i.e. KPS < or = 80, and < or = 5% wt. loss). The median dose of radiation to gross disease was 70.2 Gy (range: 52.2-72 Gy) delivered in fractions of 1.8 Gy, 5 days per week. RESULTS: Seven patients did not complete 3-DCRT due to disease progression outside the port. Follow-up data are mature: the median follow up of the 6 survivors is 43.5 months (35-59). Thoracic progression occurred in 46%. Median survival (all 45 patients.) is 15.7 months and survival is 32% at 2 years and 12% at 59 months. Pulmonary toxicity > or = grade 3 occurred in 9% of patients. Dose volume histograms were available in 31 patients and showed a correlation between risk of pulmonary toxicity and indices of dose to lung parenchyma. Grade 3 or higher pulmonary toxicity occurred in 38% (3/8) of patients with > 30% of lung volume receiving > or = 25 Gy, versus 4% (1/23) of patients with < or = 30% lung receiving > or = 25 Gy (P = 0.04). Grade 3 or higher pulmonary toxicity occurred in 29% (4/14) of patients with a predicted pulmonary normal tissue complication probability of 12% or higher versus 0% (0/17) in patients with a predicted probability of less than 12% (P = 0.03). CONCLUSIONS: Despite adverse prognostic criteria median survival is encouraging and may be higher than some combined modality approaches. Dose volume histogram parameters may be useful to determine the maximum dose for individual patients and thereby permit avoidance of toxicity.