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Adv Radiat Oncol


PURPOSE: As screening chest computed tomography for patients at high risk for cancer has become more widely accepted, increasing numbers of patients with early-stage small cell lung cancer (SCLC) are being diagnosed. Although surgery is an accepted option for patients with early-stage SCLC, for patients who decline or cannot undergo surgery, stereotactic body radiation treatment (SBRT) is an alternative. Although prophylactic cranial irradiation (PCI) improves survival in patients with limited-stage SCLC, PCI for early-stage SCLC (stage T1-T2) has not been explored. This study defines survival and recurrence patterns in patients with early-stage SCLC who were treated with surgery or SBRT in the absence of PCI.

METHODS AND MATERIALS: In this single-institution retrospective study, 14 patients diagnosed with early-stage SCLC (stage T1-T2) between July 2015 and May 2021 at a single tertiary care hospital were treated with SBRT or surgery with no PCI. Primary outcomes were locoregional cancer recurrence, distant recurrence, recurrence-free survival, and overall survival. The secondary outcome was development of brain metastasis. Analyses included Cox regression, Kaplan-Meier survival, and log-rank tests.

RESULTS: A total of 14 patients (5 women and 9 men) were included in the study: 9 with stage T1 and 5 with stage T2 SCLC. Six patients (43%) received SBRT and 8 (57%) had surgical treatment. All patients except 1 received adjuvant chemotherapy. Median follow-up was 14.3 months (range, 2.4-64.4 months), and the median age at diagnosis was 71.5 years (range, 54-81 years). Cox regression and log-rank tests showed no significant differences in any outcomes between the surgery and SBRT groups, and no patients developed brain metastases during the study period.

CONCLUSIONS: Data are lacking regarding the benefit of PCI in early-stage SCLC. Although the sample size in this study was too small to draw any conclusions, the findings add to the ongoing dialogue regarding the importance of PCI in this patient population. No difference was identified in survival and cancer recurrence in patients who received either surgery or SBRT in the absence of PCI.

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