Objective: Curative surgery is not an option for many patients with clinical stage I non-small-cell lung carcinoma (NSCLC), but radical radiosurgery may be effective.
Methods: Inoperable patients with small peripheral clinical stage I NSCLC were enrolled in this study. Three-to-five fiducial markers were implanted in or near tumors under CT guidance. Gross tumor volumes (GTVs) were contoured using lung windows. The GTV margin was expanded by 5 mm to establish the planning treatment volume (PTV). A dose of 42-60 Gy was delivered to the PTV in 3 equal fractions in less than 2 weeks using the CyberKnife radiosurgery system. The 30-Gy isodose contour extended at least 1 cm from the GTV. Physical examination, CT imaging and pulmonary function testing were completed at 6 months intervals for three years following treatment.
Results: Twenty patients with an average maximum tumor diameter of 2.2 cm (range, 1.1 - 3.5 cm) and a mean FEV1 of 1.08 liters (range, 0.53 - 1.71 L) were treated. Pneumothorax requiring tube thoracostomy occurred following CT-guided fiducial placement in 25% of the patients. All patients completed treatment with few acute side effects and no procedure-related mortality. Transient chest wall discomfort developed in 8 of the 12 patients with lesions within 5 mm of the pleura. The mean percentage of the total lung volume receiving a minimum of 15 Gy was 7.3% (range, 2.4% to 11.3%). One patient who received concurrent gefitinib developed short-lived, grade III radiation pneumonitis. The mean percent predicted DLCO decreased by 9% and 11% at 6 and 12 months, respectively. There were no local failures, regional lymph node recurrences or distant metastases. With a median follow-up of 25 months for the surviving patients, Kaplan-Meier overall survival estimate at 2 years was 87%, with deaths due to COPD progression.
Conclusion: Radical CyberKnife radiosurgery is a well-tolerated treatment option for inoperable patients with small, peripheral stage I NSCLC. Effective doses and adequate margins are likely to have contributed to the optimal early local control seen in this study.