Original Report

Quality of life and symptoms after stereotactic body radiotherapy in early-stage lung cancer patients


Background Stereotactic body radiotherapy (SBRT) has emerged in recent years as a clinically viable treatment option for early-stage non-small- cell lung cancer (NSCLC) patients. Comprehensive assessment of quality of life (QoL) after SBRT is relatively sparse.

Objective To describe QoL and symptoms in a small, prospective cohort of early-stage NSCLC patients treated with SBRT.

Methods 19 NSCLC patients who were medically unfit for surgery or chose not to undergo surgery were included in the study. All of the patients were treated with SBRT between 2009 and 2013 at a single comprehensive cancer center. Patients completed a baseline assessment of functional and cognitive status, symptoms, psychological distress, and overall QoL. Questionnaires were repeated at 6 and 12 weeks after accrual.

Results There were no significant differences in all outcomes across the 3 evaluation time points. Overall QoL scores were moderate, and the lowest score was observed for the functional well-being domain. The most severe symptoms at baseline were pain, lack of energy, cough, nervousness, difficulty sleeping, shortness of breath, and worry. Severity scores for pain, lack of energy, and cough increased, whereas nervousness, difficulty sleeping, and worry decreased at the 12 week evaluation.

Limitations Small sample size and lack of sufficient diversity in the cohort. Conclusions QoL scores remained relatively stable across time. Anxiety improved after SBRT, whereas symptoms such as generalized pain, lack of energy, and cough worsened. The findings suggest that SBRT is overall a well-tolerated treatment with no significant decrement in patient-centered outcomes.

Funding/sponsorship This research was supported by grant 5 P01 CA136396-02 (PI: Ferrell) from the National Cancer Institute.

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