Purpose: The present study was undertaken to see how modern treatment facilities, computed tomography (CT)-based treatment planning and linear accelerator, have modified the results of postoperative irradiation after a pneumonectomy for lung cancer.
Methods and materials: Between 1970-1985, 103 patients were treated in our department after a pneumonectomy: 50 patients with a T1T2N0 tumor and 53 patients with a T3, N1 or N2 tumor. Three groups were considered: 27 patients had only surgical resection, 51 patients were irradiated postoperatively with a Co60 source, and 25 patients were treated using those modern facilities.
Results: The 5-year survival varies from 4% to 31% according to the tumor extent but also to the radiation technique. Patients treated with a Co60 source had a dismal 5-year survival rate (8%) whereas patients treated with the modern facilities had a 5-year survival rate of 30% similar to the 31% of the control surgical group including less advanced tumors.
Conclusion: Linear accelerator and computed tomography-based treatment planning improved the accuracy of postoperative thoracic irradiation and allow to deliver high doses to the mediastinum even after a pneumonectomy.