BMC palliative care 2018 01 0517(1) 15 doi 10.1186/s12904-017-0270-4
Palliative thoracic radiotherapy (PTR) can relieve symptoms originating from intra-thoracic disease. The optimal timing and fractionation of PTR is unknown. Time to effect is 2 months. The primary aim of this retrospective study was to investigate survival after PTR, hypothesizing that a significant number of patients received futile fractionated PTR. The secondary aim was to find prognostic factors to guide treatment decisions.
Patients with non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC) planned for PTR in the period of 2010-2011 at the University Hospital of Copenhagen were included. We noted pathology, tumor, node and metastasis (TNM) classification of malignant tumors, stage, indication, start date, schedule for PTR, completed y/n, performance status (PS) and time of death. Analyses were performed as an intention-to-treat using Cox regression, Fishers exact test and Kaplan Meier.
A total of 159 patients were included. Median overall survival (OS) was 4.2 months. Sixteen patients (10%) did either not begin or finish PTR. Of these, eight (5%) died prior to or during PTR. Of the 151 patients receiving PTR, sixteen patients (11%) died within 14 days, thirty-three (22%) within 30 days and fifty (33%) within 2 months. PS 0-1 and squamous cell carcinoma were correlated with a better survival.
Our study show that a significant number of patients who received PTR died before they could achieve optimal effect of the treatment. PS and histology were significant prognostic factors favoring PS 0-1 and squamous cell carcinoma. Based on our study, we suggest that patients with PS 0-1 should be considered for fractionated PTR whereas patients with PS ≥ 2 should be considered for high dose single fraction only or supportive palliative care.