Article Abstract

Longevity after radiotherapy of stage III lung cancer: superior vena cava obstruction is associated with early mortality

Authors: Federico L. Ampil, Gloria Caldito, Srinivas Devarakonda, Moiz Vora, Glenn Mills, Shawn Milligan


Background: People with locally advanced lung cancer have a poor prognosis. Physicians are unable to accurately predict life expectancy of patients. The aims of this retrospective study were to identify the life spans of individuals after radiotherapy of stage III carcinoma of the lung and to determine whether potential prognostic factors could identify people with distinct life spans.
Methods: Between September 1981 and August 2010, 133 consecutive individuals underwent definitive or palliative radiotherapy (with or without chemotherapy) for stage IIIA/IIIB disease. Analysis of the survival data revealed that 14 patients experienced long-term survival, exceeding 36 months; 94 patients had a short-term life span (STLS), extending between 4 and 36 months, and 25 patients were in the end-of-life (EOL) period, referring to the last 3 months of life. Recognized pre-treatment clinicopathological features were tested for their impact on prognosis.
Results: The largest proportion of patients presenting with superior vena cava obstruction (SVCO) (P<0.001) and receiving palliative radiotherapy (P=0.009) were from the EOL group. Most of the individuals with inadequate or no health insurance belonged to the STLS and EOL cohorts (P=0.001). Multivariate analysis revealed that the presence of SVCO was an independent factor predictive of shortened survival/EOL status (P=0.001).
Conclusions: Our study showed that a particular disease characteristic, health insurance status and provision of contemporary therapy can influence individual longevity. Selection and prioritization of health care resources remain important; therefore, identification of influential prognostic factors in lung cancer patients deserves further scrutiny.