High-Dose-Rate Brachytherapy in Combination with Stenting Offers a Rapid and Statistically Significant Improvement in Quality of Life for Patients with Endobronchial Recurrence

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Symptomatic endobronchial recurrence after treatment failure is common in advanced non-small cell lung cancer. Optimal palliation has yet to be defined. We examined the combination of near-simultaneous, high-dose-rate (HDR) brachytherapy with stenting in this cohort of patients.Informed consent for intervention was obtained for 10 patients experiencing severely symptomatic (hemoptysis and oxygen-dependent shortness of breath), biopsy-proven endobronchial recurrence. All patients (eight men, two women, aged 52–77 years) had failed to respond to chemoradiotherapy for stage IIIB non-small cell lung cancer. Intervention consisted of placement of a self-expanding metallic stent (Nitinol/Ultraflex stent, Boston Scientific Co., Natick, MA) into the obstructing region. During that same bronchoscopy, HDR catheters were introduced. A dose of 6 Gy at 0.5 cm from the catheter was then delivered via an HDR unit. Two additional HDR sessions followed at weekly intervals for a total dose of 18 Gy. Patients underwent followup bronchoscopes 1 month after the last HDR and when clinically indicated.All patients completed the prescribed therapy. No morbidity was noted from bronchoscopy, HDR, or stenting. All patients had rapid relief of signs and symptoms. At 1 week after stenting/ first HDR, a statistically significant improvement in Karnofsky status was noted. Pulmonary palliation was maintained for the duration of their survival. The radio-opaque stent also offered significant advantages for catheter placement and verification during the HDR procedure. Although this series is small, the beneficial outcome obtained deserves further evaluation.

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