Purpose: To analyze disease failure patterns by pretreatment characteristics and treatment groups in a prospective randomized trial.
Methods and materials: Patients with medically inoperable Stage II, unresectable IIIA and IIIB nonsmall cell lung cancer with KPS > or =70 and weight loss < or =5% were randomized to one of three treatment groups: standard radiation therapy with 60 Gy at 2.0 Gy per day (STD RT), induction chemotherapy with cisplatin 100 mg/m2 days 1 and 29 with vinblastine 5 mg/m2 weekly for 5 weeks followed by 60 Gy at 2.0 Gy per day (CT + RT), or hyperfractionated radiation therapy with 69.6 Gy at 1.2 Gy b.i.d. (HFX RT). Of 490 patients enrolled, 458 were evaluable. Minimum and median periods of observation for this analysis were 4 years and 6 years, respectively.
Results: Pretreatment characteristics were equally distributed. Toxicities were previously reported. Median survival rates were 11.4, 13.6, and 12.3 months for STD RT, CT + RT, and HFX RT, respectively (log rank p = 0.05, Wilcoxon p = 0.04). Survivals were 20, 31, and 24% at 2 years, and 4, 11, and 9% at 4 years in the STD RT, CT + RT, and HFX RT groups, respectively. There were no differences in local tumor control rates among the treatments. Patterns of first failure showed less distant metastasis (DM) (other than brain) for CT + RT compared to the RT alone arms (p = 0.04). Within squamous cell carcinoma (SCC), DM (other than brain) rates were 43%, 16%, and 38% in SCC for STD RT, CT + RT, and HFX RT, respectively (p = 0.0015). Patients with peripheral/chest wall lesions were significantly more likely to fail first in the thorax when treated on STD RT compared to CT + RT and HFX RT (p = 0.009). Survival rates were similar among the treatment arms for patients with squamous cell carcinoma. Among patients with nonsquamous cell carcinoma, failure patterns did not differ by treatment group, but survival was significantly better in those who were treated by induction chemotherapy (p = 0.04).
Conclusion: Patients with squamous cell carcinoma treated on the CT + RT arm had a significant reduction of first DM other than brain, but there was difference in survival. Survival favored CT + RT in nonsquamous carcinoma despite similar failure patterns. Reasons for improved survival with CT + RT in NSCLC are not yet available.