Original Study| Volume 24, ISSUE 2, e78-e86, March 2023

Toxicities and Deaths From Intercurrent Disease Following Contemporary Postoperative Radiotherapy in Resected Non-Small-Cell Lung Cancer

Published:December 24, 2022DOI:



      The role of postoperative radiotherapy (PORT) in patients with resected locally advanced non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC) remains controversial due to the radiation techniques used in randomized trials. We conducted a retrospective cohort study evaluating contemporary PORT techniques to evaluate the safety of PORT and risk of death from intercurrent disease .

      Materials and Methods

      We analyzed consecutive patients with NSCLC treated in a single center that underwent PORT for pN2 disease and/or positive margin, with 3-dimensional conformal radiotherapy (3DRT), intensity modulated radiotherapy , or proton RT (PRT), between 2008 and 2019. Clinical details were collected including intercurrent deaths, defined as death without cancer recurrence. Kaplan-Meier and Cox-Proportional Hazards Models were used.


      Of 119 patients, 21 (17.6%) received 3DRT, 47 (39.5%) intensity modulated radiotherapy, and 51 (42.9%) PRT. Median follow-up was 40 months (range 8-136) and median RT dose was 5040cGy. Most patients (65.5%) received sequential adjuvant chemoRT; 18.5% received concurrent chemoRT. The rate of grade 3 toxicities was 9.2%. There were 13 (10.9%) deaths from intercurrent diseases, including 6 from second primary cancers and 2 from cardiopulmonary diseases. There were 2 additional deaths from cardiopulmonary disease in patients with cancer progression at time of death. Mean, V5Gy, V30Gy heart doses and mean lung doses were significantly lower with PRT. Three-year OS and disease-free-survival were 70.1% and 49.9%.


      PORT using contemporary techniques was well tolerated with acceptable toxicity and low rates of intercurrent deaths. Proton therapy significantly reduced heart and lung doses, but radiotherapy modality was not associated with differences in intercurrent disease.



      (NSCLC) (Non-small-cell lung cancer), (PORT) (Postoperative adjuvant radiation therapy), (DFS) (disease-free-survival), (HR) (Hazard ratio), (3DRT) (Three-dimensional radiotherapy), (IMRT) (Intensity-modulated radiotherapy), (PRT) (Proton therapy), (OARs) (Organs-at-risk), (DID) (Deaths from intercurrent diseases), (ECOG) (Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group), (PET) (Positron emission tomography), (AJCC) (American Joint Committee on Cancer), (Vx) (Percentage volume receiving at least x Gy), (CTCAE) (Common Terminology Criteria for Adverse Events), (OS) (Overall survival), (COPD) (Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease)
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