Heart Dose Is an Independent Dosimetric Predictor of Overall Survival in Locally Advanced Non–Small Cell Lung Cancer

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In the randomized trial of standard- versus high-dose chemoradiotherapy for locally advanced (LA) NSCLC (Radiation Therapy Oncology Group 0617), overall survival (OS) was worse in the high-dose arm. Although heart dose was suggested as a contributing factor, actionable parameters have not been established. We present an analysis of clinical and dosimetric parameters affecting OS in this patient population, focusing on heart dose.


Clinical data were collected on 416 patients with LA NSCLC treated at a single institution, with a subset of 333 available treatment plans recontoured using Radiation Therapy Oncology Group 0617 normal tissue guidelines. Toxicity and dosimetry data were analyzed for 322 patients; multivariate analysis was performed on 251 patients. Dosimetric parameters of radiation to tumor and organs at risk were analyzed with clinical data pertaining to OS, disease-free survival, and toxicity.


Patients were treated with radiation therapy to prescribed doses of 50.0 to 84.9 Gy (median 66.0 Gy). Median follow-up was 14.5 months. Median OS was 16.8 months. The 1- and 2-year OS rates were 61.4% and 38.8%, respectively. On multivariate analysis, factors independently associated with worse OS were increasing heart V50 (volume receiving ≥50 Gy), heart volume, lung V5 (proportion of the lung structure [excluding the target volume]) receiving at least 5 Gy), bilateral mediastinal lymph node involvement, and lack of concurrent chemotherapy. When stratified by heart V50 less than 25% versus 25% or greater, the 1-year OS rates were 70.2% versus 46.8% and the 2-year OS rates were 45.9% versus 26.7% (p < 0.0001). Median heart V50 was significantly higher (20.8% versus 13.9%, p < 0.0001) for patients with cardiac toxicity with a Common Terminology Criteria for Adverse Events grade of 1 or higher.


Heart dose is associated with OS and cardiac toxicity for patients with LA NSCLC treated with chemoradiotherapy.

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