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Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys. 1997 Jan 1;37(1):117-22.

A retrospective quality of life analysis using the Lung Cancer Symptom Scale in patients treated with palliative radiotherapy for advanced nonsmall cell lung cancer.

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  • 1Department of Radiation Oncology, Medical College of Virginia, Richmond 23298-0058, USA.



To measure symptom palliation in patients treated with radiation therapy for advanced nonsmall cell lung cancer (NSCLC).


Five hundred thirty patients with NSCLC were treated at the Medical College of Virginia between 1988 and 1993. Sixty-three patients with the least favorable prognostic features received palliative radiation to 30 Gy in 10 or 12 fractions for symptoms related to the presence of intrathoracic tumor. The observer portion of the Lung Cancer Symptom Scale (LCSS) was employed in a retrospective chart review, scoring measures of appetite, fatigue, cough, dyspnea, hemoptysis, and pain.


In 54 evaluable patients, median survival was 4 months and was independent of age, stage, performance status, or histology. Ninety-six percent of the patients had at least one LCSS symptom at presentation. Fatigue was unaffected by therapy. Improvements in appetite (p = 0.68) and pain (p = 0.61) were not statistically significant. There was, however, a statistically significant reduction in cough (p = 0.01), hemoptysis (p = 0.001), and dyspnea (p = 0.0003). Self-limiting acute side effects included transient esophagitis in 37% of patients, though no severe toxicities were noted.


These results suggest symptomatic benefit from radiotherapy even in those NSCLC patients with advanced disease and a limited life expectancy. Treatment should be given to patients whose symptoms are most amenable to palliation. A site-specific quality of life instrument such as the LCSS should be included within any future clinical trial of NSCLC management so that symptom control may be scored as a treatment outcome in addition to disease-free survival.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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