J Korean Soc Ther Radiol Oncol.  2004 Mar;22(1):1-10.

Multidisciplinary Management of the Locally Advanced Unresectable Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer

  • 1Research Institute and Hospital, National Cancer Center, Gyeonggi-do, Korea. kwancho@ncc.re.kr


Locally advanced (Stage III) non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) accounts for approximately one third of all cases of NSCLC. Few patients with locally advanced NSCLC present with disease amenable to curative surgical resection. Historically, these patients were treated with primary thoracic radiation therapy (RT) and had poor long term survival rates, due to both progression of local disease and development of distant metastases. Over the last two decades, the use of multidisciplinary approach has improved the outcome for patients with locally advanced NSCLC. Combined chemoradiotherapy is the most favored approach for treatment of locally advanced unresectable NSCLC. There are two basic treatment protocols for administering combined chemotherapy and radiation, sequential versus concurrent. The rationale for using chemotherapy is to eliminate subclinical metastatic disease while improving local control. Sequential use of chemotherapy followed by radiotherapy has improved median and long term survival compared to radiation therapy alone. This approach appears to decrease the risk of distant metastases, but local failure rates remain the same as radiation alone. Concurrent chemoradiotherapy has been studied extensively. The potential advantages of this approach may include sensitization of tumor cells to radiation by the administration of chemotherapy, and reduced overall treatment time compared to sequential therapy; which is known to be important for improving local control in radiation biology. This approach improves survival primarily as a result of improved local control. However, it doesn't seem to decrease the risk of distant metastases probably because concurrent chemoradiation requires dose reductions in chemotherapy due to increased risks of acute morbidity such as acute esophageal toxicity. Although multidisciplinary therapy has led to improved survival rates compared to radiation therapy alone and has become the new standard of care, the optimal therapy of locally advanced NSCLC continues to evolve. The current issues in the multidisciplinary management of locally advanced NSCLC will be reviewed in this report.

MeSH Terms

Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung*
Clinical Protocols
Drug Therapy
Neoplasm Metastasis
Standard of Care
Survival Rate
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