Purpose: To evaluate outcomes after high-dose-rate endobronchial brachytherapy (HDR-EBBT) for limited lung carcinoma.
Methods: A total of 106 patients with endobronchial lung cancer and not eligible for surgery or external beam radiotherapy, without nodal or visceral metastases, were treated with HDR-EBBT. They had developed disease relapse after surgery (n = 43) or external beam radiotherapy (n = 27) or had early lung cancer with respiratory insufficiency (n = 36). Treatment consisted of six fractions of 5 or 7 Gy, usually delivered 1 cm from the source.
Results: The complete histologic response rate, evaluated at 3 months after HDR-EBBT, was 59.4%. At 3 and 5 years, the local control, overall survival, and cause-specific survival rates were 60.3% and 51.6%, 47.4 and 24%, and 67.9 and 48.5%, respectively. Factors significantly associated with local failure were high tumor volume (tumor length >2 cm, bronchial obstruction >25%, tumor visibility on CT scan) and previous endoscopic treatment. Cause-specific survival, but not overall survival, was significantly associated with local control, probably because of the high rate of deaths not related to lung cancer. Five deaths were attributed to the HDR-EBBT procedure (two from fatal hemoptysis and three from bronchial necrosis).
Conclusion: High-dose-rate-EBBT achieved a long-term cause-specific survival rate of 50% of the patients with localized endobronchial carcinoma and could be considered curative.