Split-course chemoradiotherapy for locally advanced non-small cell lung cancer: a single-institution experience of 144 patients

J Thorac Oncol. 2011 Jun;6(6):1079-86. doi: 10.1097/JTO.0b013e3182199a7c.


Background: Concurrent chemoradiotherapy (CRT) is a standard of care in the treatment of unresectable locally advanced non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). At Rush University Medical Center, patients with locally advanced NSCLC are treated with split-course CRT in an attempt to maximize efficacy and tolerability. We reviewed our experience in advanced NSCLC since 1999. Subset analysis was performed on poor-risk patients.

Methods: All patients with a diagnosis of stage IIIA/IIIB NSCLC and treated with definitive split-course CRT between January 1999 and December 2008 were included in this retrospective study. The primary end point was overall survival. Poor-risk patients were defined in accordance with ongoing cooperative group trials.

Results: One hundred forty-four patients were identified, 35% stage IIIA and 65% stage IIIB. There were 52 poor-risk patients and 92 average-risk patients. Median survival for all patients was 20.4 months with an actuarial 32.1% 3-year overall survival rate. Poor-risk patients demonstrated a median survival of 22.1 months, statistically indistinguishable from the remainder of the cohort (p = 0.21). Acute esophagitis was mild, with a 3% rate of grade 3 esophagitis and no cases of grade 4 or 5.

Conclusions: Split-course CRT appeared effective and was delivered with a favorable toxicity profile. Poor-risk patients experienced better than expected survival. Prospective evaluation of split-course CRT must be completed before it can be considered a standard treatment option in locally advanced NSCLC.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols / therapeutic use*
  • Carboplatin / administration & dosage
  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung / drug therapy*
  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung / mortality
  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung / pathology
  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung / radiotherapy*
  • Combined Modality Therapy / methods
  • Dose Fractionation, Radiation
  • Etoposide / administration & dosage
  • Humans
  • Lung Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Lung Neoplasms / mortality
  • Lung Neoplasms / pathology
  • Lung Neoplasms / radiotherapy*
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Paclitaxel / administration & dosage
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Assessment
  • Survival Analysis
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Etoposide
  • Carboplatin
  • Paclitaxel