Validation of Effective Dose as a Better Predictor of Radiation Pneumonitis Risk Than Mean Lung Dose: Secondary Analysis of a Randomized Trial

Susan L. Tucker, Ting Xu, Harald Paganetti, Timo Deist, Vivek Verma, Noah Choi, Radhe Mohan, Zhongxing Liao*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Purpose: To confirm the superiority of effective dose (D-eff) over mean lung dose (MLD) for predicting risk of radiation pneumonitis (RP), using data from patients on a randomized trial of intensity modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) versus passively scattered proton therapy (PSPT).

Methods and Materials: The prescribed target dose for the 203 evaluated patients was 66 to 74 Gy (relative biological effectiveness) in 33 to 37 fractions with concurrent carboplatin/paclitaxel. Time to grade >= 2 RP was computed from the start of radiation therapy, with disease recurrence or death considered censoring events. Generalized Lyman models of censored time to RP were constructed with MLD or D-eff as the dosimetric parameter. Smoking status (current, former, never) was also analyzed.

Results: Of the 203 patients, 46 experienced grade >= 2 RP (crude incidence 23%) at a median 3.7 months (range, 0.6-12.6 months). The volume parameter estimated for the D-eff model was n = 0.5, confirming estimates from earlier studies. Compared with MLD (in which n = 1), the dosimetric parameter D-eff, computed using n = 0.5, resulted in a better fit of the Lyman model to the clinical data (P = .010). Using D-eff, the model describes RP risk for IMRT and PSPT data combined no further improvement was found from separate fits (P = .558). Based on D-eff, predicted RP risk per patient ranged from 24 percentage points lower to 19 percentage points higher than predictions based on MLD. For patients with similar MLD, D-eff predicted higher risk, on average, for PSPT over IMRT. Current smokers had a lower risk of RP than former smokers and nonsmokers (P = .021).

Conclusions: We used data from a randomized trial to validate our previous finding that D-eff with n = 0.5 (corresponding to root mean squared dose) is a better predictor of RP than is MLD. Differences between D-eff and MLD indicate that delivering higher doses to smaller lung volumes (vs lower doses to larger volumes) increases RP risk. We further corroborated that current smoking is associated with decreased RP risk. Published by Elsevier Inc.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)403-410
Number of pages8
JournalInternational Journal of Radiation Oncology Biology Physics
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2019



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