Superior Vena Cava Obstruction in Small-cell Lung Cancer
International Journal of Radiation Oncology, Biology, Physics
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PURPOSE: To identify prognostic or treatment factors influencing the response of superior vena cava obstruction (SVCO), time to SVCO recurrence, and overall survival of SCLC patients with SVCO at presentation; and to assess the role of retreatment in patients with SVCO at recurrent or persistent disease.
METHODS AND MATERIALS: Between January 1983 and November 1993, 76 consecutive patients who had small-cell lung cancer (SCLC) with SVCO were treated in our institution. Analysis was done according to the disease status at diagnosis of SVCO. The first analysis concerned a group of 50 patients who had SVCO at initial presentation. The second analysis concerned a group who had SVCO as a manifestation of persistent or recurrent disease.
RESULTS: In the first analysis, 93% had significant improvement in symptoms of SVCO after chemotherapy and 94% after mediastinal radiation. Response is almost universal despite a wide range of radiation fractionation and total dose used. Seventy percent remained SVCO-free before death. Thirty percent developed recurrence of SVCO symptoms 1-16 months (median 8) after the start of initial treatment. Those who received combined chemotherapy and radiation had a longer time to SVCO recurrence (p = 0.018) compared to those who received chemotherapy alone. This effect is mainly seen in limited-stage patients. The presence of SVCO recurrence tends to have an adverse effect on the overall survival (p = 0.077) irrespective of the time when the recurrences occurred (p = 0.296). The median survival of this whole group of 50 patients in the first analysis was 9.5 months, and the 2-year survival was 10%. Stage was strongly predictive of survival (p < 0.001). Sixteen percent (3 of 19) of the patients with limited-stage diseases were long-term survivors (two patients survived 35 months and one survived 70 months). The early mortality from SVCO was 2%. In the second analysis, 85% had previously been treated with chemotherapy alone. The response rate of SVCO in the analysable patients (n = 39) was 77%. There was no significant difference in the response rate of SVCO to treatment comparing patients treated by chemotherapy first or mediastinal radiation first (p = 0.653), but most patients [82% (32 of 39)] received radiation as the initially treatment of SVCO. Ninety-three percent (38 of 41) received mediastinal radiation as a part of their ultimate retreatment regimen, and 68% (28 of 41) received mediastinal radiation as their sole retreatment regimen. Thirty-two percent (13 of 41) received chemotherapy as a part of their ultimate retreatment regimen, and only 7% received chemotherapy alone as their sole retreatment regimen. Eighty-three percent (25 of 30) of those whose SVCO responded remained free of SVCO before death, with a median survival of 3 months after recurrent or persistent disease documented.
CONCLUSION: Chemotherapy or mediastinal radiation is very effective as an initial treatment in SCLC patients with SVCO at presentation and at recurrent or persistent disease. There is no obvious need to use big radiation fraction sizes for the first few radiation treatment as was previously believed. In patients with recurrent or persistent SCLC with SVCO, especially in those who previously received chemotherapy only, we have more experience in incorporating mediastinal radiation as a major component of the palliative regimen with highly effective and durable palliation achieved.