Dyspnea in Patients Receiving Radical Radiotherapy for Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer: A Prospective Study

Angela Sardaro, Fiona McDonald, Lilia Bardoscia, Konstantin Lavrenkov, Shalini Singh, Sue Ashley, Daphne Traish, Cristina Ferrari, Icro Meattini, Artor Niccoli Asabella, Michael Brada

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Background and Purpose: Dyspnea is an important symptomatic endpoint for assessment of radiation-induced lung injury (RILI) following radical radiotherapy in locally advanced disease, which remains the mainstay of treatment at the time of significant advances in therapy including combination treatments with immunotherapy and chemotherapy and the use of local ablative radiotherapy techniques. We investigated the relationship between dose-volume parameters and subjective changes in dyspnea as a measure of RILI and the relationship to spirometry. Material and Methods: Eighty patients receiving radical radiotherapy for non-small cell lung cancer were prospectively assessed for dyspnea using two patient-completed tools: EORTC QLQ-LC13 dyspnea quality of life assessment and dyspnea visual analogue scale (VAS). Global quality of life, spirometry and radiation pneumonitis grade were also assessed. Comparisons were made with lung dose-volume parameters. Results: The median survival of the cohort was 26 months. In the evaluable group of 59 patients there were positive correlations between lung dose-volume parameters and a change in dyspnea quality of life scale at 3 months (V30 p=0.017; V40 p=0.026; V50 p=0.049; mean lung dose p=0.05), and a change in dyspnea VAS at 6 months (V30 p=0.05; V40 p=0.026; V50 p=0.028) after radiotherapy. Lung dose-volume parameters predicted a 10% increase in dyspnea quality of life score at 3 months (V40; p=0.041, V50; p=0.037) and dyspnea VAS score at 6 months (V40; p=0.027) post-treatment. Conclusions: Worsening of dyspnea is an important symptom of RILI. We demonstrate a relationship between lung dose-volume parameters and a 10% worsening of subjective dyspnea scores. Our findings support the use of subjective dyspnea tools in future studies on radiation-induced lung toxicity, particularly at doses below conventional lung radiation tolerance limits.

Original languageEnglish
Article number594590
JournalFrontiers in Oncology
StatePublished - 23 Dec 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • dose-volume parameters
  • dyspnea
  • non-small cell lung cancer
  • radiation-induced lung injury
  • radiotherapy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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