Despite the wide application of computed tomography (CT) in the diagnosis and management of lung cancer, the role of this diagnostic modality in the management of small-cell lung cancer (SCC) has not yet been defined. We therefore compared information gained from routine chest radiography (CXR) and CT scans performed on 32 patients with SCC who were treated on an intensive chemotherapy-radiotherapy protocol. Seventy-nine pairs of CXRs and CT scans were retrospectively reviewed. We found that although CT delineates a greater extent of intrathoracic disease in each of nine anatomic areas evaluated than does CXR, agreement between CT and CXR was significant for all areas except the pericardium. Pericardial thickening was seen only on CT scan and is more frequent in SCC patients than has previously been appreciated, but both its etiology and prognostic significance are unclear at this time. CT also allowed interpretation of disease status in cases where radiation-induced fibrosis made interpretation of the CXR impossible. We do not recommend routine use of chest CT at time of diagnosis of SCC, but we recommend that its use be reserved for evaluation of new symptoms or suspected relapse, or when radiation fibrosis on CXR is severe.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cancer Research