Regional differences in lung radiosensitivity after radiotherapy for non-small-cell lung cancer

Yvette Seppenwoolde, Katrien De Jaeger*, Liesbeth J. Boersma, José S.A. Belderbos, Joos V. Lebesque

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

158 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose To study regional differences in lung radiosensitivity by evaluating the incidence of radiation pneumonitis (RP) in relation to regional dose distributions. Methods and materials Registered chest CT and single photon emission CT lung perfusion scans were obtained in 106 patients before curative or radical radiotherapy for non-small-cell lung cancer. The mean lung dose (MLD) was calculated. The single photon-emission CT perfusion data were used to weigh the MLD with perfusion, resulting in the mean perfusion-weighted lung dose. In addition, the lungs were geometrically divided into different subvolumes. The mean regional dose (MRD) for each region was calculated and weighted with the perfusion of each region to obtain the mean perfusion-weighted regional dose. RP was defined as respiratory symptoms requiring steroids. The incidence of RP for patients with tumors in a specific subvolume was calculated. The normal tissue complication probability (NTCP) parameter values for the TD50, and an offset NTCP parameter for tumor location were fitted for both lungs and for each lung subvolume to the observed data using maximum likelihood analysis. Results The incidence of RP correlated significantly with the MLD and MRD of the posterior, caudal, ipsilateral, central, and peripheral lung subvolumes (p between 0.05 and 0.002); no correlation was seen for the anterior, cranial, and contralateral regions Similarly, a statistically significant correlation was observed between the incidence of RP and the perfusion-weighted MLD and perfusion-weighted MRD for all regions, except the anterior lung region. For this region, the dose-effect relation improved remarkably after weighting the local dose with the local perfusion. A statistically significant difference (p = 0.01) in the incidence of RP was found between patients with cranial and caudal tumors (11% and 40%, respectively). Therefore, a dose-independent offset NTCP parameter for caudal tumors was included in the NTCP model, improving most correlations significantly, confirming that patients with caudal tumors have a greater probability of developing RP. Conclusion The incidence of RP correlated significantly with the MLD and MRD of most lung regions, except for the anterior, cranial, and contralateral regions. Weighting the local dose with the local perfusion improved the dose-effect relation for the anterior lung region. Irradiation of caudally located lung tumors resulted in a greater risk of RP than irradiation of tumors located in other parts of the lungs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)748-758
Number of pages11
JournalInternational Journal of Radiation Oncology Biology Physics
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2004
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Supported by the Dutch Cancer Society (Grant 99-2043). Y. Seppenwoolde and K. De Jaeger contributed equally to this study.


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