Elective nodal irradiation in the treatment of non-small-cell lung cancer with three-dimensional conformal radiation therapy

Kenneth E. Rosenzweig, Sang E. Sim, Borys Mychalczak, Louise E. Braban, Rachel Schindelheim, Steven A. Leibel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

149 Scopus citations


Purpose: Dose escalation using three-dimensional conformal radiation therapy (3D-CRT) has been investigated as a means to improve local control. However, with higher doses, the risk of toxicity increases. Early in our experience, we ceased treating elective nodal areas (lymph node stations without evidence of tumor involvement) in an effort to decrease toxicity while treating the gross tumor to higher doses. This report measures the rate of regional failure without elective radiation therapy to uninvolved lymph nodes. Methods and Materials: A total of 171 patients with non-small-cell lung cancer treated with 3D-CRT at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center between 1991 and 1998 were reviewed. Only lymph node regions initially involved with tumor either by biopsy (55%) or radiographic criteria (node ≥15 mm in the short axis on CT) were included in the clinical target volume. Elective nodal failure was defined as a recurrence in an initially uninvolved lymph node in the absence of local failure. Results: Only 11 patients (6.4%) with elective nodal failure were identified. With a median follow-up of 21 months in survivors, the 2-year actuarial rates of elective nodal control and primary tumor control were 91% and 38%, respectively. In patients who were locally controlled, the 2-year rate of elective nodal control was 85%. The median time to elective nodal failure was 4 months (range, 1-19 months). Most patients failed in multiple lymph node regions simultaneously. Conclusion: Local control remains one of the biggest challenges in the treatment of non-small-cell lung cancer. Most patients in our series developed local failure within 2 years of radiation therapy. The omission of elective nodal treatment did not cause a significant amount of failure in lymph node regions not included in the clinical target volume. Therefore, we will continue our policy of treating mediastinal lymph node regions only if they are clinically involved with tumor.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)681-685
Number of pages5
JournalInternational Journal of Radiation Oncology Biology Physics
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 Jul 2001
Externally publishedYes


  • 3D-CRT
  • Elective
  • Lymph nodes
  • Non-small-cell lung cancer
  • Radiation therapy
  • Radiotherapy
  • Three-dimensional


Dive into the research topics of 'Elective nodal irradiation in the treatment of non-small-cell lung cancer with three-dimensional conformal radiation therapy'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this