Radiation Treatment Time and Overall Survival in Locally Advanced Non-small Cell Lung Cancer

Matthew T. McMillan, Eric Ojerholm, Vivek Verma, Kristin A. Higgins, Sunil Singhal, Jarrod D. Predina, Abigail T. Berman, Surbhi Grover, Cliff G. Robinson, Charles B. Simone

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70 Scopus citations


Purpose Prolonged radiation treatment (RT) time (RTT) has been associated with worse survival in several malignancies. The present study investigated whether delays during RT are associated with overall survival (OS) in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). Methods and Materials The National Cancer Database was queried for patients with stage III NSCLC who had received definitive concurrent chemotherapy and fractionated RT to standard doses (59.4-70.0 Gy) and fractionation from 2004 to 2013. The RTT was classified as standard or prolonged for each treatment regimen according to the radiation dose and number of fractions. Cox proportional hazards models were used to evaluate the association between the following factors and OS: RTT, RT fractionation, demographic and pathologic factors, and chemotherapeutic agents. Results Of 14,154 patients, the RTT was prolonged in 6262 (44.2%). Factors associated with prolonged RTT included female sex (odds ratio [OR] 1.21, P<.0001), black race (OR 1.20, P=.001), nonprivate health insurance (OR 1.30, P<.0001), and lower income (<$63,000 annually, OR 1.20, P<.0001). The median OS was significantly worse for patients with prolonged RTT than that for those with standard RTT (18.6 vs 22.7 months, P<.0001). Furthermore, the OS worsened with each cumulative interval of delay (standard RTT vs prolonged 1-2 days, 20.5 months, P=.009; prolonged 3-5 days, 17.9 months, P<.0001; prolonged 6-9 days, 17.7 months, P<.0001; prolonged >9 days, 17.1 months, P<.0001). On multivariable analysis, prolonged RTT was independently associated with inferior OS (hazard ratio 1.21, P<.0001). Prolonged RTT as a continuous variable was also significantly associated with worse OS (hazard ratio 1.001, P=.0007). Conclusions Delays during RT appear to negatively affect survival for patients with locally advanced NSCLC. We have detailed the demographic and socioeconomic barriers influencing prolonged RTT as a method to address the health disparities in this regard. Cumulative interruptions of RT should be minimized.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1142-1152
Number of pages11
JournalInternational Journal of Radiation Oncology Biology Physics
Issue number5
StatePublished - Aug 1 2017


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