Purpose: We retrospectively evaluated the outcome and toxicity of external beam radiotherapy (EBRT) after airway stents were placed in patients treated for malignant airway obstruction.
Methods and materials: Between 2004 and 2009, we performed airway stenting followed by EBRT in 43 patients for symptomatic primary lung cancer (n = 31) or other thoracic malignancies (n = 12). The median time interval between stent placement and first irradiation was 14 days. A median total dose of 50 Gy was delivered. Sixty-seven percent of the patients had reduced performance status (Karnofsky performance score, ≤70).
Results: EBRT had to be stopped prematurely in 16 patients (37%), at a median total dose of 17 Gy, for various reasons. In this group of patients, the survival was poor, with a median overall survival (OS) of only 21 days. Twenty-seven patients (63%) completed radiotherapy as planned, with a median OS of 8.4 months. Fourteen of 43 patients (33%) developed at least one Common Terminology Criteria for Adverse Event of grade 3 to 5. The most common event was a malignant restenosis of the stent leading to asphyxia (n = 7), followed by fistula formation (n = 4), necrosis (n = 3), mediastinitis with abscess (n = 1), secondary nonmalignant airway stenosis (n = 1), and hemoptysis (n = 1). With the exception of one event, all events were associated with a local progression of the tumor.
Conclusions: Although the long-term prognosis for patients with malignant airway obstruction is poor, airway stenting combined with EBRT offers a possible therapeutic option, achieving fast relief of acute respiratory distress with an associated antitumor effect, resulting in a potential survival benefit. However, due to local advanced tumor growth, increased rates of adverse events are to be expected, necessitating careful monitoring.
Copyright © 2012 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.