The Addition of Chemotherapy to Radiation Therapy Improves Survival in Elderly Patients with Stage III Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer.

Miller ED, Fisher JL, Haglund KE, Grecula JC, Xu-Welliver M, Bertino EM, He K, Shields PG, Carbone DP, Williams TM, Otterson GA, Bazan JG
J Thorac Oncol 13 426-435 01/01/2018


INTRODUCTION: Elderly patients account for the majority of lung cancer diagnoses but are poorly represented in clinical trials. We evaluated the overall survival (OS) of elderly patients with stage III NSCLC treated with definitive radiation compared with that of patients treated with definitive chemoradiation.

METHODS: We conducted a comparative effectiveness study of radiation therapy versus chemoradiation in elderly (≥70 years old) patients with stage III NSCLC not treated surgically diagnosed from 2003 to 2014; the patients were identified by using the National Cancer Database. Two cohorts were evaluated: patients (n = 5023) treated with definitive radiation (≥59.4 Gy) and patients (n = 18,206) treated with definitive chemoradiation. Chemoradiation was further defined as concurrent (radiation and chemotherapy started within 30 days of each other) or sequential (radiation started >30 days after chemotherapy). We compared OS between the treatment groups by using the Kaplan-Meier method and Cox proportional hazards regression before and after propensity score matching (PSM).

RESULTS: Treatment with chemoradiation was associated with improved OS versus that with radiation both before PSM (hazard ratio [HR] = 0.66, 95% confidence interval [CI]: 0.64-0.68, p < 0.001) and after PSM (HR = 0.67, 95% CI: 0.64-0.70, p < 0.001). Relative to concurrent chemoradiation, sequential chemoradiation was associated with a 9% reduction in the risk for death (HR = 0.91, 95% CI: 0.85-0.96, p = 0.002).

CONCLUSIONS: We found that definitive chemoradiation resulted in a survival advantage compared with definitive radiation in elderly patients. Sequential chemotherapy and radiation was superior to concurrent chemoradiation. Although prospective trials are needed, this analysis suggests that chemoradiation should be strongly considered for elderly patients and the optimal sequencing of chemotherapy and radiation remains an unanswered question for this patient population.

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