Pathologic response after modern radiotherapy for non-small cell lung cancer

Simon F. Roy, Alexander V. Louie, Moishe Liberman, Philip Wong, Houda Bahig


In non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), pathologic complete response (pCR) following radiotherapy treatment has been shown to be an independent prognostic factor for long-term survival, progression-free survival and locoregional control. PCR is considered a surrogate to therapeutic efficacy, years before survival data are available, and therefore can be used to guide treatment plans and additional therapeutic interventions post-surgical resection. Given the extensive fibrotic changes induced by radiotherapy in the lung, radiological assessment of response can potentially misrepresent pathologic response. The optimal timing for assessment of pathologic response after conventionally fractionated radiotherapy and stereotactic ablative radiotherapy (SABR) remain poorly understood. In this review, we summarize recent literature on pathologic response after radiotherapy for early stage and locally advanced NSCLC, we discuss current controversies around radiological considerations, and we present upcoming trials that will provide insight into current knowledge gaps.