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Semin Radiat Oncol. 2000 Oct;10(4):315-23.

Counterpoint: better radiation treatment of non-small cell lung cancer using new techniques without elective nodal irradiation.

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  • 1Department of Radiation Oncology, the Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, SC 29425, USA.


The treatment of non-small cell lung cancer has continued to evolve with the advent of improved staging technologies, chemotherapeutic agents, and methods of radiation delivery. Treatment of clinically uninvolved, regional lymph nodes historically has been delivered in the attempt to cover unseen disease, reduce regional failure, and improve survival. None of these suppositions has been tested nor are they supported by data. With enhanced staging using modalities like positron emission tomography and esophageal ultrasonography, treatment portals can be designed to encompass known disease with greater accuracy and confidence. Data for early-stage non-small cell lung cancer is now increasing and strongly suggest that eliminating elective nodal irradiation does not result in a high incidence of nodal relapse and does not compromise survival. Three-dimensional conformal radiotherapy incorporates better targeting and beam directions to effect smaller treatment volumes that include only clinically evident disease. It provides treatment techniques that maximize tumor dose and minimize normal tissue toxicity. Using smaller fields that do not incorporate elective nodal regions may allow higher doses, and these may help improve local control and survival in a disease where current results are unacceptable.

Copyright 2000 by W.B. Saunders Company.

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