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Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys. 1999 Jul 1;44(4):847-53.

Is prolonged survival possible for patients with supraclavicular node metastases in non-small cell lung cancer treated with chemoradiotherapy?: Analysis of the Radiation Therapy Oncology Group experience.

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  • 1Department of Radiation Oncology, Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia 19104, USA.



To determine if patients with non-small cell lung carcinoma (NSCLC) and positive supraclavicular nodes (SN+) have a similar outcome to other patients with Stage IIIB NSCLC (SN-) when treated with modern chemoradiotherapy.


Using the Radiation Therapy Oncology Group (RTOG) database, data were retrospectively analyzed from five RTOG trials studying chemoradiotherapy for NSCLC: 88-04, 88-08 (chemo-RT arm), 90-15, 91-06, 92-04. Comparisons were made between the SN+ and SN- subgroups with respect to overall survival, progression-free survival (PFS), and metastases-free survival (MFS) using the log rank test. Cox multivariate proportional hazards regression analysis was used to determine the effect of several potential confounding variables, including histology (squamous vs. nonsquamous), age (>60 vs. < or = 60), Karnofsky Performance Status (KPS) (<90 vs. > or = 90), weight loss (> or = 5% vs. <5%), and gender.


A total of 256 Stage IIIB patients were identified, of whom 47 had supraclavicular nodes (SN+) and 209 did not (SN-). Statistically significantly more SN+ patients had nonsquamous histology (p = 0.05); otherwise, known prognostic factors were well balanced. The median survival for SN+ patients was 16.2 months, vs. 15.6 months for SN- patients. The 4-year actuarial survival rates were 21% and 16% for SN+ and SN- patients respectively (p = 0.44). There was no statistically significant difference in the 4-year PFS rates (19% vs. 14%, p = 0.48). The Cox analysis did not show the presence or absence of supraclavicular nodal disease to be a prognostic factor for survival, MFS, or PFS. The only statistically significant factor on multivariate analysis was gender, with males having a 40% greater risk of mortality than females (p = 0.03). There were no clinically significant differences in toxicity when comparing SN+ vs. SN- patients. Among the 47 SN+ patients, there were no reported cases of brachial plexopathy or other > or = Grade 2 late neurologic toxicity.


When treated with modern chemoradiotherapy, the outcome for patients with supraclavicular metastases appears to be similar to that of other Stage IIIB patients. SN+ patients should continue to be enrolled in trials studying aggressive chemoradiotherapy regimens for locally advanced NSCLC.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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