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Pattern-of-failure and salvage treatment analysis after chemoradiotherapy for inoperable stage III non-small cell lung cancer.

  • Author(s): Taugner, Julian
  • Eze, Chukwuka
  • Käsmann, Lukas
  • Roengvoraphoj, Olarn
  • Gennen, Kathrin
  • Karin, Monika
  • Petrukhnov, Oleg
  • Tufman, Amanda
  • Belka, Claus
  • Manapov, Farkhad
  • et al.


Loco-regional and distant failure are common in inoperable stage III non small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC) after chemoradiotherapy (CRT). However, there is limited real-world data on failure pattern, patient prognosis and salvage options.


We analysed 99 consecutive patients with inoperable stage III NSCLC treated with CRT between 2011 and 2016. Follow up CT scans from date of the first-site failure were matched with the delivered radiation treatment plans. Intra-thoracic loco-regional relapse was defined as in-field (IFR) vs. out-of-field recurrence (OFR) [in- vs. outside 50Gy isodose line in the involved lung], respectively. Extracranial distant (DMs) and brain metastases (BMs) as first site of recurrence were also evaluated. Using the Kaplan-Meier method, impact of salvage surgery (sS), radiotherapy (sRT), chemotherapy (sCT) and immunotherapy (sIO) on patient survival was assessed.


Median follow-up was 60.0 months. Median PFS from the end of CRT for the entire cohort was 7.5 (95% CI: 6.0-9.0 months) months. Twenty-six (26%) and 25 (25%) patients developed IFR and OFR. Median time to diagnosis of IFR and OFR was 7.2 and 6.2 months. In the entire cohort, onset of IFR and OFR did not influence patient outcome. However, in 73 (74%) patients who survived longer than 12 months after initial diagnosis, IFR was a significant negative prognostic factor with a median survival of 19.3 vs 40.0 months (p < 0.001). No patients with IFR underwent sS and/or sRT. 18 (70%) and 5 (19%) patients with IFR underwent sCT and sIO. Three (12%) patients with OFR underwent sS and are still alive with 3-year survival rate of 100%. 5 (20%) patients with OFR underwent sRT with a median survival of 71.2 vs 19.1 months (p = 0.014). Four (16%) patients with OFR received sIO with a numerical survival benefit (64.6 vs. 26.4 months, p = 0.222). DMs and BMs were detected in 27 (27%) and 16 (16%) patients after median time of 5.8 and 5.13 months. Both had no impact on patient outcome in the entire cohort. However, patients with more than three BMs showed significantly poor OS (9.3 vs 26.0 months; p = 0.012).


After completion of CRT, IFR was a negative prognostic factor in those patients, who survived longer than 12 months after initial diagnosis. Patients with OFR benefit significantly from salvage local treatment. Patients with more than three BMs as first site of failure had a significantly inferior outcome.

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