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Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys. 2013 Nov 1;87(3):487-93. doi: 10.1016/j.ijrobp.2013.07.008. Epub 2013 Aug 20.

Symptomatic pericardial effusion after chemoradiation therapy in esophageal cancer patients.

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Department of Radiology, School of Medicine, Keio University, Tokyo, Japan. Electronic address:



We investigated clinical and treatment-related factors as predictors of symptomatic pericardial effusion in esophageal cancer patients after concurrent chemoradiation therapy.


We reviewed 214 consecutive primary esophageal cancer patients treated with concurrent chemoradiation therapy between 2001 and 2010 in our institute. Pericardial effusion was detected on follow-up computed tomography. Symptomatic effusion was defined as effusion ≥grade 3 according to Common Terminology Criteria for Adverse Events v4.0 criteria. Percent volume irradiated with 5 to 65 Gy (V5-V65) and mean dose to the pericardium were evaluated employing dose-volume histograms. To evaluate dosimetry for patients treated with two-dimensional planning in the earlier period (2001-2005), computed tomography data at diagnosis were transferred to a treatment planning system to reconstruct three-dimensional plans without modification. Optimal dosimetric thresholds for symptomatic pericardial effusion were calculated by receiver operating characteristic curves. Associating clinical and treatment-related risk factors for symptomatic pericardial effusion were detected by univariate and multivariate analyses.


The median follow-up was 29 (range, 6-121) months for eligible 167 patients. Symptomatic pericardial effusion was observed in 14 (8.4%) patients. Dosimetric analyses revealed average values of V30 to V45 for the pericardium and mean pericardial doses were significantly higher in patients with symptomatic pericardial effusion than in those with asymptomatic pericardial effusion (P<.05). Pericardial V5 to V55 and mean pericardial doses were significantly higher in patients with symptomatic pericardial effusion than in those without pericardial effusion (P<.001). Mean pericardial doses of 36.5 Gy and V45 of 58% were selected as optimal cutoff values for predicting symptomatic pericardial effusion. Multivariate analysis identified mean pericardial dose as the strongest risk factor for symptomatic pericardial effusion.


Dose-volume thresholds for the pericardium facilitate predicting symptomatic pericardial effusion. Mean pericardial dose was selected based not only on the optimal dose-volume threshold but also on the most significant risk factor for symptomatic pericardial effusion.

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