Purpose: To identify a clinically relevant and available parameter upon which to identify non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) patients at risk for pneumonitis when treated with three-dimensional (3D) radiation therapy.
Methods and materials: Between January 1991 and October 1995, 99 patients were treated definitively for inoperable NSCLC. Patients were selected for good performance status (96%) and absence of weight loss (82%). All patients had full 3D treatment planning (including total lung dose-volume histograms [DVHs]) prior to treatment delivery. The total lung DVH parameters were compared with the incidence and grade of pneumonitis after treatment.
Results: Univariate analysis revealed the percent of the total lung volume exceeding 20 Gy (V20), the effective volume (Veff) and the total lung volume mean dose, and location of the tumor primary (upper versus lower lobes) to be statistically significant relative to the development of > or = Grade 2 pneumonitis. Multivariate analysis revealed the V20 to be the single independent predictor of pneumonitis.
Conclusions: The V20 from the total lung DVH is a useful parameter easily obtained from most 3D treatment planning systems. The V20 may be useful in comparing competing treatment plans to evaluate the risk of pneumonitis for our individual patient treatment and may also be a useful parameter upon which to stratify patients or prospective dose escalation trials.