Oncology Publications


Radiation Treatment of Lung Cancer--Patterns of Practice in Canada

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Radiotherapy and Oncology





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BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: To assess the patterns of practice among Canadian radiation oncologists who treat lung cancers.

PATIENTS AND METHODS: A questionnaire detailing different aspects of radiation treatment of lung cancer was mailed to all radiation oncologists treating lung cancer in Canada. Seventy-two percent (74/103) of radiation oncologists who treat lung cancer from all 34 Canadian cancer centres replied to the questionnaire.

RESULTS: (a) Radiotherapy regimens in Canadian cancer centres are in accordance with several major randomised studies. There is still some variation in treatment practice that may be due to unresolved controversies or limited resources. The most frequently used prescription dose was 40Gy/15f/3w (where f stands for fractions and w stands for weeks) for small cell lung cancer (SCLC) and 60Gy/30f/6w for non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). If there were no resource constraints, 30% (22/74) and 20% (15/74) would prefer to use a different dose-fractionation scheme for SCLC and NSCLC, respectively; 95% (70/74) would prefer to use 3D-conformal or intensity-modulated radiotherapy. (b) Among the various modern technologies assessed by respondents, CT (computed tomography) simulator, multi-leaf collimator, on-line electronic portal imaging and PET (positron-emission tomography) scanning were rated the highest in terms of potential patient benefit. Discrepancy between demand and availability of technology was greatest for PET scanning.

CONCLUSIONS: Canadian practice in the treatment of lung cancers shows some variations although it is consistent with the trends in the literature. The lack of some modern technologies and human resources is an ongoing concern, especially the lack of PET imaging equipment.

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