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Cancer. 2014 Jul 1;120(13):2060-8. doi: 10.1002/cncr.28677. Epub 2014 Apr 1.

Influence of conformal radiotherapy technique on survival after chemoradiotherapy for patients with stage III non-small cell lung cancer in the National Cancer Data Base.

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Department of Radiation Oncology, Rush University Medical Center, Chicago, Illinois.



Definitive chemoradiotherapy is a core treatment modality for patients with stage III non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). Although radiotherapy (RT) technologies have advanced dramatically, to the authors' knowledge relatively little is known regarding the importance of irradiation technique on outcome, particularly given the competing risk of distant metastasis. The National Cancer Data Base was used to determine predictors of overall survival (OS) in patients with AJCC stage III NSCLC who were treated with chemoradiotherapy, focusing on the importance of conformal RT (CRT).


Patients with stage III NSCLC who were treated with chemoradiotherapy between 2003 and 2005 in the National Cancer Data Base were included. RT technique was defined as conventional, 3-dimensional-conformal, or intensity-modulated RT (IMRT), the latter 2 combined as CRT. Cox proportional hazards regression was performed for univariable and multivariable analyses of OS.


The median, 3-year, and 5-year survival outcomes for the 13,292 patients were 12.9 months, 19%, and 11%, respectively. The 3-year and 5-year survival probabilities of patients receiving CRT versus no CRT were 22% versus 19% and 14% versus 11%, respectively (P < .0001). On multivariable analysis, CRT was found to be significantly associated with improved OS (hazards ratio, 0.89). This effect was confirmed on sensitivity analyses, including restricting the cohort to minimum 6-month survivors, young patients with stage IIIA disease, and propensity score-matching. Institutional academic status and patient volume were not found to be associated with OS.


CRT was found to be independently associated with a survival advantage. These results reflect the importance of optimal locoregional therapy in patients with stage III NSCLC and provide motivation for further study of advanced RT technologies in patients with NSCLC.


chemoradiotherapy; conformal radiotherapy; health services research; non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC)

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