Consequences of Referral Time and Volume Doubling Time in Inoperable Patients With Early Stage Lung Cancer

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Abstract

Background

Inoperable patients with early stage lung cancer are referred late. The purpose was to calculate the referral time and the volume doubling time (VDT), and to investigate its consequence with regard to staging and survival in 117 inoperable patients with early stage lung cancer treated with stereotactic body radiotherapy.

Materials and Methods

Tumor VDT was calculated using the modified Schwartz formula of exponential growth model and was on the basis of volumes measured on initial diagnostic computed tomography (CT) scans and the planning CT scan. VDT was defined as fast (<100 days), moderate (100-249 days), slow (250-399 days), and no growth (≥400 days). The referral time is the time between the diagnostic CT scan and the radiotherapy planning CT scan.

Results

The median referral time was 86 days. The VDT was fast in 53 patients [45%] of tumors. No significant difference in VDT was found between different tumor or patient characteristics. Patients with T1 tumors that progressed to T2 had a significant worse median survival (P = .01). The overall survival at 5 years according to VDT was 21% for fast-growing tumors, 19% for moderate growth, 31% for slow, and 46% for no growth.

Conclusion

The median referral time was almost 3 months. VDT was considered as fast in almost half of tumors examined. This resulted in significant growth and upstaging in 35% of the tumors, with a significant worse survival if T1 tumors progressed to T2 tumors. Therefore, medically inoperable patients should also be offered a fast workup and referral.

Micro-Abstract

In 117 inoperable early stage lung cancer patients treated with stereotactic body radiotherapy, referral time (time between diagnostic and planning computed tomography scan), volume doubling time (VDT), and survival was calculated. Median referral time was 86 days. VDT was fast (<100 days) in 45% of tumors. Patients with T1 tumors that progressed to T2 had a median survival of 19 months.

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