Radiation-induced pulmonary injury: symptomatic versus subclinical endpoints.

International journal of radiation biology

PubMedID: 10815626

Marks LB, Fan M, Clough R, Munley M, Bentel G, Coleman RE, Jaszczak R, Hollis D, Anscher M. Radiation-induced pulmonary injury: symptomatic versus subclinical endpoints. Int J Radiat Biol. 2000;76(4):469-75.
PURPOSE
To assess the relationship between radiation (RT)-induced pulmonary symptoms and subclinical changes in pulmonary functions tests (PFT) and radiographs.

MATERIALS AND METHODS
A total of 184 patients irradiated between 1992 and 1998 were prospectively evaluated for RT-induced pulmonary symptoms, changes in computed tomography (CT) density, reductions in single photon emission CT (SPECT) perfusion, and changes in pulmonary functions tests (forced expiratory volume in 1 s [FEV1] and diffusion capacity to carbon monoxide [DLCO]). Comparisons between the evaluable patients with (N=34) and without (N=106) RT-induced pulmonary symptoms were made.

RESULTS
Within 6 months of RT, 80% of the RT-induced symptoms were noted. There was no association between the presence or absence of RT-induced pulmonary symptoms and the frequency of RT-induced radiographic changes (p=0.53), or in the dose-response curve for RT-induced reductions in regional perfusion. Overall, RT-induced changes in SPECT images were more commonly seen than increased density changes on CT (p<0.001). Most patients with pulmonary symptoms had relatively low pre-RT PFTs and experienced further declines following RT.

CONCLUSIONS
Regional radiographic changes in CT-defined tissue density or SPECT-defined tissue perfusion are similar in patients with and without RT-induced pulmonary symptoms because these endpoints do not consider the volume of lung affected. RT-induced pulmonary symptoms are better related to post-RT PFT because they are an assessment of whole lung function. Additional studies are necessary to better define models that can predict the degree of radiation-induced changes in whole lung function.