Systematic endobronchial ultrasound-guided transbronchial needle aspiration improves radiotherapy planning in non-small cell lung cancer

Aidan Joseph Cole, Nicholas Hardcastle, Guy-Anne Turgeon, Roshini Thomas, Louis B. Irving, Barton R. Jennings, David Ball, Tomas Kron, Daniel P. Steinfort, Shankar Siva

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Objectives Patients suitable for radical chemoradiotherapy for lung cancer routinely have radiotherapy (planning) volumes based on positron emission tomography (PET)-computed tomography (CT) imaging alone. Endobronchial ultrasound (EBUS)-guided transbronchial needle aspiration (TBNA) can identify PET-occult malignancy and benign PET-avid regions. We investigated the impact of EBUS-TBNA on curative-intent radiotherapy in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC).

Methods A prospective multicentre trial was undertaken, investigating the impact of systematic EBUS-TBNA in addition to PET-CT for patients considered for radical chemoradiotherapy with NSCLC. A subset analysis of patients with discordant findings between PET-CT and EBUS-TBNA was performed. Radiotherapy plans investigated tumour coverage and dose to critical organs at risk (OARs) using PET-CT alone in comparison to PET-CT and EBUS-TBNA.

Results Of 30 patients enrolled, 10 had discordant findings between PET-CT and EBUS-TBNA. EBUS-TBNA-derived plans allowed for reduction in dose to OARs in patients downstaged by EBUS-TBNA, and reduced the risk of geographic miss in treating PET-occult disease in four patients where EBUS-TBNA identified malignant involvement of PET-negative lymphadenopathy. With the addition of EBUS-TBNA to radiotherapy planning, reductions were noted of 5.7%, 3.7% and 12.5% for the risks of symptomatic pneumonitis, mean heart dose and mean oesophageal dose, respectively.

Conclusions This study demonstrates for the first time that systematic EBUS-TBNA prior to radical-intent radiotherapy significantly improves coverage of subclinical disease through detection of PET-occult metastases. Identification of false-positive lymph node involvement in highly selected cases may reduce radiation dose to critical structures, and risk of organ toxicity.
Original languageEnglish
JournalWellcome open research
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jul 2019


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