Proton therapy for post-operative radiation therapy of non-small cell lung cancer
Post-operative radiation therapy (PORT) is typically recommended for patients with locally advanced non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) with N2 mediastinal nodal involvement after surgical resection. The routine use of PORT, however, is controversial as older data demonstrated a detriment in overall survival in patients who received PORT. This detriment was thought to be due to older, more toxic radiation techniques. More recent data with modern radiation techniques demonstrates a local-regional and overall survival benefit with PORT in patients with N2 nodal involvement. Due to the competing risks of local-regional recurrence and cardiopulmonary toxicity in patients who are candidates for PORT, methods to widen the therapeutic window are needed. The physical characteristics of proton beam therapy allow for less radiation dose to the heart and lungs. Therefore, proton beam therapy has great potential in patients undergoing PORT. Initial dosimetric and clinical data have been published and are encouraging, but prospective data is needed to further understand the true benefit of proton therapy in patients undergoing PORT.