La radiologia medica

, Volume 123, Issue 7, pp 554–560 | Cite as

Radiation therapy in small cell lung cancer: a national Italian survey

  • Patrizia Ciammella
  • Giorgia Timon
  • Alessio Bruni
  • Davide Franceschini
  • Paolo Borghetti
  • Nicolò Giaj-Levra
  • Carlo Greco
  • Vieri Scotti
  • Marco Trovo
  • On the behalf of Associazione Italiana Radioterapia Oncologica (AIRO)



Radiation therapy plays an important role in the management of SCLC both in curative and palliative setting, however, conflicting data from clinical trials incite debate over the appropriate use of radiation therapy regarding prophylactic cranial irradiation (PCI) and/or thoracic consolidative in extensive-stage SCLC (ES-SCLC). This survey is conducted to evaluate the current pattern of care among Italian radiation oncologists.


In June 2016, all Italian radiation oncologists were invited to a web-based survey. The survey contained 34 questions regarding the role of RT in SCLC. Questions pertaining the role of RT in the clinical management of both limited-stage (LS) and ES-SCLC were included.


We received 48 responses from Italian radiation oncologists. More than half of respondents had been practicing for more than 10 years after completing residency training and 55% are subspecialists in lung cancer. Preferred management of LS-SCLC favored primary concurrent chemoradiotherapy (89%), even if the 36.9% usually delivered RT during or after the cycle 3 of chemotherapy, due to organizational issues. The most common dose and fractionation schedule in this setting was 60 Gy in 30 once-daily fractions. Furthermore, almost all respondents recommended PCI in patients with LS-SCLC. For ES-SCLC scenario, chemotherapy was defined the standard treatment by all respondents. PCI was recommended in ES-SCLC patients with thoracic complete remission (63% of respondents), with thoracic partial response (45%) and with thoracic stable disease (17%) after first-line chemotherapy. Lastly, the thoracic consolidative RT was recommended by 51% of respondents in patients with ES-SCLC in good response after first-line chemotherapy and a great variability was shown in clinical target volume definition, doses and fractionation schedules.


Our analysis showed a high adherence to current guidelines among the respondents in regard to chemoradiation approach in LS-SCLC patients and to PCI indications and doses. The great variability in radiation therapy doses and volumes in the thoracic consolidative radiotherapy in ES-SCLC is concerning. Future clinical trials are needed to standardize these treatment approaches to improve treatment outcomes among patients with ES-SCLC.


Radiation therapy Small cell lung cancer National Italian survey 



No specific fundings to be declared.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

All authors disclose no actual or potential conflict of interest including any financial, personal or other relationships with other people or organizations that could inappropriately influence their work.

Ethical standards

This article does not contain any studies with human participants or animals performed by any of the authors.


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Copyright information

© Italian Society of Medical Radiology 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Patrizia Ciammella
    • 1
  • Giorgia Timon
    • 1
  • Alessio Bruni
    • 2
  • Davide Franceschini
    • 3
  • Paolo Borghetti
    • 4
  • Nicolò Giaj-Levra
    • 5
  • Carlo Greco
    • 6
  • Vieri Scotti
    • 7
  • Marco Trovo
    • 8
  • On the behalf of Associazione Italiana Radioterapia Oncologica (AIRO)
  1. 1.Radiation Therapy Unit, Department of Oncology and Advanced Technology, Azienda Ospedaliera Arcispedale S Maria NuovaIstituto di Ricovero e Cura a Carattere ScientificoReggio EmiliaItaly
  2. 2.UOC Radioterapia OncologicaAOU Policlinico di ModenaModenaItaly
  3. 3.Radiotherapy and Radiosurgery DepartmentHumanitas Cancer Center and Research HospitalMilanItaly
  4. 4.Radiation Oncology DepartmentSpedali Civili BresciaBresciaItaly
  5. 5.Radiation OncologySacro Cuore Don Calabria Cancer Care CenterNegrarItaly
  6. 6.Radiotherapy UnitCampus Bio-Medico UniversityRomeItaly
  7. 7.Department of Radiation Oncology, Azienda Ospedaliero-Universitaria CareggiUniversity of FlorenceFlorenceItaly
  8. 8.Radiation Oncology DepartmentCRO AvianoAvianoItaly

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