What is the role of radiation therapy in the treatment of Pancoast tumors?

Updated: Jul 29, 2019
  • Author: Melanie Guerrero, MD; Chief Editor: Eugene C Lin, MD  more...
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Preoperative radiation therapy at doses of 2000-6500 cGy, followed by surgical resection, is the most common form of treatment for Pancoast tumors. The overall 5-year survival rate in patients treated with preoperative radiation therapy and surgery is reported to be 20-35%. [1, 17, 18, 6, 7]

Radiation therapy at a dose of 6000 cGy or greater has been used as a primary treatment modality for inoperable tumors, with successful palliation of pain in as many as 90% of patients. The reported 5-year survival rate is 0-29% in these patients, which is likely a result of extensive disease involvement at initial presentation.

The routine use of intraoperative and postoperative radiation therapy is not currently recommended, except in patients in whom unresectable tumors are found at the time of surgery.

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