Review Article| Volume 23, ISSUE 8, P659-669, December 2022

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Incidence of Pneumonitis Among Limited Stage Small Cell Lung Cancer Patients Exposed to Concurrent Chemoradiation: A Systematic Literature Review and Meta-Analysis

Published:September 26, 2022DOI:


      • Pneumonitis risk was estimated in SCLC patients receiving concurrent chemoradiation.
      • Pooled risk of ≥ grade 3 pneumonitis ranged 3.28% to 6.34% in RCTs and other studies.
      • Pooled risk of fatal pneumonitis ranged 0.29% to 0.88% in RCTs and other studies.
      • Benchmark pneumonitis risks help understand the safety of novel therapeutic agents.


      Severe pneumonitis (≥ grade 3 by Common Terminology Criteria for Adverse Events [CTCAE]) is a toxicity associated with concurrent chemoradiation therapy (CCRT), which is the standard first-line treatment for patients with limited-stage small cell lung cancer (LS-SCLC).
      We summarize and quantify the risk of pneumonitis in LS-SCLC patients receiving first-line CCRT. A systematic literature review (SLR) and meta-analysis were performed in accordance with Cochrane and PRISMA guidelines. Electronic databases were searched to identify relevant randomized controlled trials (RCTs), observational studies, and non-randomized trials between 2014 to July 16, 2020. The primary outcome was incidence of pneumonitis. Thirteen studies were included in the SLR and 1539 pooled patients from 10 studies were included in the base-case meta-analysis. The pooled incidence of ≥ grade 3 pneumonitis was 3.28% (95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.52%-5.04%) in RCTs, and 6.34% (95% CI: 3.64%-9.04%) in non-RCTs. The pooled incidence risk of grade 5 (fatal) pneumonitis was 0.29% (95% CI: 0.00%-0.62%) in RCTs and 0.88% (95% CI: 0.02%-1.74%) in non-RCT. Results from sensitivity analyses were consistent with the base-case analysis. The results from this analysis show that the incidence of ≥ grade 3 pneumonitis in patients with LS-SCLC was 3.28% to 6.34%. The incidence of pneumonitis was higher in studies conducted in non-RCTs compared to RCTs. These results can be used to understand the safety, with regard to pneumonitis, of novel therapeutic agents when administered with CCRT to treat patients with LS-SCLC.
      To summarize and quantify the risk of pneumonitis in LS-SCLC patients receiving first-line CCRT, a systematic literature review (SLR) and meta-analysis were performed in accordance with Cochrane and PRISMA guidelines.

      Graphical abstract


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