Purpose: Omitting elective nodal irradiation from planning target volumes does not compromise outcomes in patients with non-small-cell lung cancer, but whether the same is true for those with limited-stage small-cell lung cancer (LS-SCLC) is unknown. Therefore, in the present study, we sought to determine the clinical outcomes and the frequency of elective nodal failure in patients with LS-SCLC staged using positron emission tomography/computed tomography and treated with involved-field intensity-modulated radiotherapy.
Methods and materials: Between 2005 and 2008, 60 patients with LS-SCLC at our institution underwent disease staging using positron emission tomography/computed tomography before treatment using an intensity-modulated radiotherapy plan in which elective nodal irradiation was intentionally omitted from the planning target volume (mode and median dose, 45 Gy in 30 fractions; range, 40.5 Gy in 27 fractions to 63.8 Gy in 35 fractions). In most cases, concurrent platinum-based chemotherapy was administered. We retrospectively reviewed the clinical outcomes to determine the overall survival, relapse-free survival, and failure patterns. Elective nodal failure was defined as recurrence in initially uninvolved hilar, mediastinal, or supraclavicular nodes. Survival was assessed using the Kaplan-Meier method.
Results: The median age of the study patients at diagnosis was 63 years (range, 39-86). The median follow-up duration was 21 months (range, 4-58) in all patients and 26 months (range, 4-58) in the survivors. The 2-year actuarial overall survival and relapse-free survival rate were 58% and 43%, respectively. Of the 30 patients with recurrence, 23 had metastatic disease and 7 had locoregional failure. We observed only one isolated elective nodal failure.
Conclusions: To our knowledge, this is the first study to examine the outcomes in patients with LS-SCLC staged with positron emission tomography/computed tomography and treated with definitive intensity-modulated radiotherapy. In these patients, elective nodal irradiation can be safely omitted from the planning target volume for the purposes of dose escalation and toxicity reduction.
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