Purpose: To evaluate exclusive high-dose-rate brachytherapy for localized early-stage non-small-cell bronchial carcinoma; to develop new insights in treatment-catheter positioning and tumor-volume assessment by computed tomography (CT) scan.
Methods and materials: Between 1992 and 1996, 34 patients with non-small-cell bronchial carcinoma were treated by brachytherapy alone. All patients were medically inoperable and had contraindications for external beam irradiation. The treatment protocol was six sessions of 5 Gy over 6 weeks. The treatment catheter was placed under fiberoscopy and was positioned with the help of spacer catheters or with a surrounding plastic tube; CT scan was performed in 50% of the cases to measure the spacing between the applicator and the bronchial wall. Dose prescription was individually based on clinical and radiologic evaluation of tumor volume.
Results: Local disease failure occurred in 5 patients (15%). With a median follow-up of 2 years, the local control rate was 85% and the survival rate 78%. No acute toxicity was found, except one pneumothorax.
Conclusion: Brachytherapy alone can give an optimal therapeutic ratio in small endobronchial carcinomas without radiation-induced morbidity. Such results are achieved after careful tumor volume evaluation and individualized treatment catheter positioning.