Patients with locally advanced non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) who received intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) may better tolerate chemotherapy and have less severe lung toxicity, according to research presented at the American Society of Radiation Oncology’s 57th annual meeting in San Antonio, TX.

Researchers led by Stephen Chun, MD, of The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, TX, conducted a secondary analysis of data collected from the NRG/RTOG 0617 phase 3 trial of 482 patients treated with radiation from 2007 to 2011.

Along with concurrent chemotherapy, 47% of patients had undergone 3-dimensional conformal radiation therapy (3-D CRT), while 53% had undergone IMRT.

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They found 44% fewer cases of severe pneumonitis in those patients who received IMRT, despite 3.5% of them having larger tumors, compared to 7.9% in the 3-D CRT group. According to Dr. Chun, the benefit of IMRT was more pronounced in larger tumors.

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In addition, 37% of patients who received IMRT completed consolidative chemotherapy, compared to 29% of those treated with 3-D CRT.

“This is the first analysis of a prospective clinical trial to show a reduction of toxicity associated with IMRT in locally advanced lung cancer and could lead to a major change in the way radiation therapy is delivered for the disease,” Dr. Chun said.


  1. For lung cancer patients, IMRT associated with lesser side effects, better tolerance of chemotherapy, compared to conventional radiation therapy [news release]. The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center; October 18, 2015. Accessed October 19, 2015.