Can we safely reduce the radiation dose to the heart while compromising the dose to the lungs in oesophageal cancer patients?

Jannet C Beukema*, Yoshifumi Kawaguchi, Nanna M Sijtsema, Tian-Tian Zhai, Johannes A Langendijk, Lisanne V van Dijk, Peter van Luijk, Teruki Teshima, Christina T Muijs

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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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.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)222-227
Number of pages6
JournalRadiotherapy and Oncology
Early online date2020
Publication statusPublished - Aug-2020

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