A retrospective quality of life analysis using the lung cancer symptom scale in patients treated with palliative radiotherapy for advanced nonsmall cell lung cancer

Stephen T. Lutz, David T. Huang, Catherine L. Ferguson, Brian D. Kavanagh, Oscar F. Tercilla, Jiandong Lu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

39 Scopus citations


Purpose: To measure symptom palliation in patients treated with radiation therapy for advanced nonsmall cell lung cancer (NSCLC). Methods and Materials: Five hundred thirty patients with NSCLC were treated at the Medical College of Virginia between 1988 and 1993. Sixty-three patients with the least favorable prognostic features received palliative radiation to 30 Gy in 10 or 12 fractions for symptoms related to the presence of intrathoracic tumor. The observer portion of the Lung Cancer Symptom Scale (LCSS) was employed in a retrospective chart review, scoring measures of appetite, fatigue, cough, dyspnea, hemoptysis, and pain. Results: In 54 evaluable patients, median survival was 4 months and was independent of age, stage, performance status, or histology. Ninety-six percent of the patients had at least one LCSS symptom at presentation. Fatigue was unaffected by therapy. Improvements in appetite (p = 0.68) and pain (p = 0.61) were not statistically significant. There was, however, a statistically significant reduction in cough (p = 0.01), hemoptysis (p = 0.001), and dyspnea (p = 0.0003). Self-limiting acute side effects included transient esophagitis in 37% of patients, though no severe toxicities were noted. Conclusions: These results suggest symptomatic benefit from radiotherapy even in those NSCLC patients with advanced disease and a limited life expectancy. Treatment should be given to patients whose symptoms are most amenable to palliation. A site-specific quality of life instrument such as the LCSS should be included within any future clinical trial of NSCLC management so that symptom control may be scored as a treatment outcome in addition to disease-free survival.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)117-122
Number of pages6
JournalInternational Journal of Radiation Oncology Biology Physics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 1997
Externally publishedYes



  • Nonsmall cell lung cancer
  • Quality of life
  • Radiotherapy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiation
  • Oncology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Cancer Research

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