Practice Patterns of Thoracic Radiotherapy for Extensive-Stage Small-Cell Lung Cancer: Survey of US Academic Thoracic Radiation Oncologists

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Abstract

Micro-Abstract

Extensive-stage small-cell practice patterns were recorded via survey. Radiation oncologists who specialize in thoracic malignancies were surveyed. Performance status, postchemotherapy disease extent, and pulmonary function were reasons to withhold thoracic radiation therapy. Age and prechemotherapy disease extent were least associated with withholding treatment.

Purpose:

Despite the recent CREST trial demonstrating a survival benefit to thoracic radiotherapy (TRT) for patients with extensive-stage small-cell lung cancer (ES-SCLC) with response to chemotherapy, as well as endorsement by current National Comprehensive Cancer Network guidelines, TRT may not be uniformly delivered in clinical practice across all circumstances.

Methods and Materials:

We surveyed US academic thoracic radiation oncologists regarding their practice patterns for TRT and assessed conditions in which withholding TRT could be warranted. A 27-question survey of demographics and practice patterns, including 5 clinical cases, was sent to 111 physicians.

Results:

Response rate was 39% (43/111). Among respondents, 60% have at least 6 years of work experience following residency; 77% and 71% respectively see > 50 lung cancer and > 11 SCLC cases annually. Regarding practice patterns, 74% use TRT in 26% to 75% of patients with ES-SCLC. Respondents would withhold TRT in cases with Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group performance status ≥ 3 (91%), when pulmonary function necessitates continuous oxygen via nasal cannula (62%), for postchemotherapy tumor progression (58%), and if > 4 postchemotherapy extrathoracic metastases were present (58%). The 5 clinical cases highlighted practice variability, although 1 case had 100% agreement among respondents.

Conclusions:

Despite support of TRT administration from the CREST trial, there are several conditions associated with frequently withholding TRT. The most common reasons include performance status, postchemotherapy extent of disease, and pulmonary function; age and prechemotherapy extent of disease were least associated. Further research should aim to identify which subgroups of ES-SCLC benefit most from TRT.

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