Lung cancer reirradiation: Exploring modifications to utilization, treatment modalities and factors associated with outcomes

J Med Imaging Radiat Sci. 2024 Feb 29:S1939-8654(24)00018-3. doi: 10.1016/j.jmir.2024.02.004. Online ahead of print.


Background: Patients treated for lung cancer (LC) often experience locoregional failure after initial treatment. Due to technological advances, thoracic reirradiation (re-RT) has become a viable treatment option. We sought to investigate the use of thoracic re-RT in LC patients over a time period characterized by technological advances in a large, multi-center cohort.

Methods and materials: LC patients treated with thoracic re-RT in two University Hospitals from 2010-2020 were identified. Clinical variables and RT data were extracted from the medical records and treatment planning systems. Overall survival (OS) was calculated from the last day of re-RT until death or last follow up.

Results: 296 patients (small cell LC n=30, non-small cell LC n=266) were included. Three-dimensional conformal radiation therapy was the RT technique used most frequently (63%), and 86% of all patients were referred for re-RT with palliative treatment intent. During the second half of the study period, the use of thoracic re-RT increased in general, more patients received curative re-RT, and there was an increased use of stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT). Median time between initial RT and re-RT was 18 months (range 1-213 months). Only 83/296 patients had combined treatment plans that allowed for registration of combined doses to organs at risk (OAR). Most of the combined doses to OAR were below recommendations from guidelines. Multivariate analysis showed superior OS (p<0.05) in patients treated with curative intent, SBRT or intensity modulated radiation therapy or had excellent performance status prior to re-RT.

Conclusions: The use of re-RT increased in the second half of the study period, although 2020 did not follow the trend. The use of SBRT and IMRT became more frequent over the years, yet the majority received palliative re-RT. Combined dose plans were only created for one third of the patients.

Keywords: Lung cancer; Re-irradiation; Reirradiation; Treatment patterns.