Coincidental splenic irradiation and risk of functional hyposplenism in oesophageal cancer treatment

Rachel Ellis*, Aidan J Cole, Jolyne O'Hare, Glenn Whitten, Karen Crowther, Claire Harrison

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Definitive chemoradiotherapy (dCRT) and radical radiotherapy are central to the management of distal oesophageal carcinoma. This study sought to establish whether the spleen receives a significant incidental radiation dose when treating distal oesophageal carcinoma with the standardised dCRT or radical radiotherapy doses.

In this single-centre retrospective study, all patients (n = 34) with distal oesophageal cancer, treated with either dCRT or radical radiotherapy over an 18-month period using a volumetric modulated arc therapy (VMAT) planning technique, were included. The median age was 74 years old: 56% were male; 50% (n = 17) had adenocarcinoma and 41% (n = 14) had squamous carcinoma. The majority (79%) received dCRT with a prescribed dose of 50 Gy in 25 fractions while the other 21% of patients were treated with radical radiotherapy alone (55 Gy in 20 fractions). The spleen was retrospectively contoured by one physician, and the V10 Gy and mean splenic dose (MSD) were calculated using Eclipse planning software.

The median MSD was 14.4 Gy with a range of 0.75–28.3 Gy. The median V10 Gy was 62.7%. Of the cohort, 67.6% received an MSD of more than 10 Gy.

Two-thirds of the patients received a dose of more than the 10 Gy. A review of the literature suggests that higher splenic radiation doses may increase the long-term risk of infection and impact on other outcomes. This study provides important evidence that the spleen receives a significant dose of radiation when treating distal oesophageal cancer and should be considered as an organ at risk.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)925-930
JournalJournal of Medical Imaging and Radiation Oncology
Issue number7
Early online date18 Aug 2021
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2021


  • spleen
  • oesophageal carcinoma
  • organ at risk
  • radiotherapy


Dive into the research topics of 'Coincidental splenic irradiation and risk of functional hyposplenism in oesophageal cancer treatment'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this