Medline: 7642434

International Journal of Radiation Oncology, Biology, Physics 33(1): 77-82, 1995.

Small cell lung cancer with and without superior vena cava syndrome: a multivariate analysis of prognostic factors in 408 cases.

Wurschmidt F, Bunemann H, Heilmann HP


Patients with small cell lung cancer (SCLC) and superior vena cava syndrome (SVCS) are widely believed to have a grave prognosis. The purpose of this study was to determine the prognosis of patients with SCLC and SVCS as compared to SCLC without SVCS.

AND MATERIALS: A retrospective analysis of 408 cases of SCLC +/- SVCS was performed. Three- hundred and sixty showed no clinical signs of SVCS and 43 (11%) had SVCS; in 5 patients no adequate information was available about clinical signs of SVCS. All patients were classified as limited disease cases. About 98% received chemotherapy usually as the first treatment followed by radiotherapy. A median total dose of 46 Gy (range 30 to 70 Gy) was given at 2.0 Gy per fraction five times weekly. A prophylactic cranial irradiation was applied if a complete remission was achieved after chemotherapy or after 30 Gy of irradiation. Kaplan-Meier survival curves are shown and comparisons were made by the log-rank and the Gehan/Wilcoxon test. To adjust for prognostic factors, a proportional hazards analysis was done.

Patients without SVCS had 5-year survival rates ( +/- SE) and a median survival time (MST; 95% confidence intervals) of 11% +/- 2% and 13.7 months (12.7-14.5) in UICC Stage I to III; in Stage III the figures were 9% +/- 2% and 12.6 months (11.2-13.7). In comparison, SCLC with SVCS had 5-year survival rates of 15% +/- 7% and MST of 16.1 months (13.8-20.5). The difference was significant in univariate analysis (Stage II disease: p = 0.008 by the log-rank test). In a multivariate analysis of all patients, Stage (Stage I + II > III; p = 0.0003), SVCS (yes > no; p = 0.005), and Karnofsky performance status ( < or = 70 < 80-100%; p = 0.008) were of significant importance.

SVCS is a favorable prognostic sign in SCLC. The treatment should be curatively intended.

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