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Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys. 2012 Jan 1;82(1):e91-7. doi: 10.1016/j.ijrobp.2010.12.072. Epub 2011 Apr 12.

Positron emission tomography/computed tomography-guided intensity-modulated radiotherapy for limited-stage small-cell lung cancer.

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Department of Radiation Oncology, University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX 77030, USA.



Omitting elective nodal irradiation from planning target volumes does not compromise outcomes in patients with non-small-cell lung cancer, but whether the same is true for those with limited-stage small-cell lung cancer (LS-SCLC) is unknown. Therefore, in the present study, we sought to determine the clinical outcomes and the frequency of elective nodal failure in patients with LS-SCLC staged using positron emission tomography/computed tomography and treated with involved-field intensity-modulated radiotherapy.


Between 2005 and 2008, 60 patients with LS-SCLC at our institution underwent disease staging using positron emission tomography/computed tomography before treatment using an intensity-modulated radiotherapy plan in which elective nodal irradiation was intentionally omitted from the planning target volume (mode and median dose, 45 Gy in 30 fractions; range, 40.5 Gy in 27 fractions to 63.8 Gy in 35 fractions). In most cases, concurrent platinum-based chemotherapy was administered. We retrospectively reviewed the clinical outcomes to determine the overall survival, relapse-free survival, and failure patterns. Elective nodal failure was defined as recurrence in initially uninvolved hilar, mediastinal, or supraclavicular nodes. Survival was assessed using the Kaplan-Meier method.


The median age of the study patients at diagnosis was 63 years (range, 39-86). The median follow-up duration was 21 months (range, 4-58) in all patients and 26 months (range, 4-58) in the survivors. The 2-year actuarial overall survival and relapse-free survival rate were 58% and 43%, respectively. Of the 30 patients with recurrence, 23 had metastatic disease and 7 had locoregional failure. We observed only one isolated elective nodal failure.


To our knowledge, this is the first study to examine the outcomes in patients with LS-SCLC staged with positron emission tomography/computed tomography and treated with definitive intensity-modulated radiotherapy. In these patients, elective nodal irradiation can be safely omitted from the planning target volume for the purposes of dose escalation and toxicity reduction.

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