Malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM) is a devastating disease with limited treatment options and a dismal prognosis. Attempts to employ radical radiotherapy in this disease have been limited by the complex shape of the pleura and the dose restrictions necessitated by the close proximity of radiosensitive structures. Recent shifts towards a 'lung sparing' surgical approach in MPM have further heightened these challenges. The aim of this systematic review is to assess recent advances in radiotherapy planning and delivery, to ascertain how these developments have impacted on the feasibility of delivering photon-based, high-dose radiotherapy with radical intent in MPM. Three electronic databases were searched and a total of 249 articles reviewed. The challenge of generating high quality, practice-defining data for diseases such as MPM was highlighted by the identification of just two randomised studies. Much of the literature consisted of low quality, retrospective data with small cohorts and inconsistent reporting on radiotherapy techniques and dosimetry. Nevertheless, a number of prospective phase II studies were identified to suggest that radical doses of radiotherapy can be delivered safely after a lung sparing procedure in MPM, reporting encouraging survival data and acceptable levels of toxicity.
Keywords: For indexing: radiotherapy; Helical tomotherapy; Intensity modulated radiotherapy; Mesothelioma; Volumetric modulated arc radiotherapy.
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