PURPOSE: The aim of this study was to evaluate which clinical and treatment-related factors are associated with heart and lung toxicity in oesophageal cancer patients treated with chemoradiation (CRT). The secondary objective was to analyse whether these toxicities are associated with overall survival (OS) MATERIALS AND METHODS: The study population consisted of a retrospective cohort of 216 oesophageal cancer patients treated with curative CRT. Clinical and treatment related factors were analysed for OS and new pulmonary and cardiac events by multivariable regression analyses. The effect of these toxicities on OS was assessed by Kaplan Meyer analyses.
RESULTS: Multivariable analysis revealed that pulmonary toxicity was best predicted by the mean lung dose. Cardiac complications were diverse; the most frequently occurring complication was pericardial effusion. Several cardiac dose parameters correlated with this endpoint. Patients developing radiation pneumonitis had significantly worse OS than patients without radiation pneumonitis, while no difference was observed in OS between patients with and without pericardial effusion. OS was best predicted by the V45 of the lung and tumour stage. None of the cardiac dose parameters predicted OS in multivariable analyses.
CONCLUSION: Cardiac dose volume parameters predicted the risk of pericardial effusion and pulmonary dose volume parameters predicted the risk of radiation pneumonitis. However, in this patient cohort, pulmonary DVH parameters (V45) were more important for OS than cardiac DVH parameters. These results suggest that reducing the cardiac dose at the expense of the dose to the lungs might not always be a good strategy in oesophageal cancer patients.