For patients with unresectable locally-advanced non-small cell lung cancer (LA-NSCLC), concurrent chemoradiotherapy improves overall survival as compared to sequential chemotherapy and radiation therapy, but is associated with higher rates of toxicities. Acute, clinically significant esophagitis or pneumonitis can occur in one in five patients. The risks of esophagitis and pneumonitis can impact the decision to deliver concurrent therapy and limit the total dose of radiation therapy that is delivered. Hematologic toxicities and emesis are common toxicities from systemic therapies for LA-NSCLC and can result in delaying chemotherapy dosing or chemotherapy dose reductions. Late treatment morbidities, including pulmonary fibrosis and cardiac toxicities, can also significantly impact quality of life and potentially even survival. Recent advances in radiation therapy treatment delivery, better knowledge of normal tissue radiotherapy tolerances and more widespread and improved uses of supportive care and medical management of systemic therapy toxicities have improved the therapeutic ratio and reduced the rates of chemoradiotherapy-induced toxicities. This review details the acute and late toxicities associated with definitive chemoradiotherapy for LA-NSCLC and discusses toxicity management and strategies to mitigate the risks of treatment-related toxicities.
Keywords: cardiac toxicity; chemoradiotherapy; esophagitis; hematologic toxicity; non-small cell lung cancer; pneumonitis; pulmonary fibrosis; toxicity.