Advanced radiation techniques for locally advanced non-small cell lung cancer: intensity-modulated radiation therapy and proton therapy
Radiation therapy (RT) represents an integral part of a multimodality treatment plan in the definitive, preoperative and postoperative management of non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). Technological advances in RT have enabled a shift from two-dimensional radiotherapy to more conformal techniques. Three-dimensional conformal radiotherapy (3DCRT), the current minimum technological standard for treating NSCLC, allows for more accurate delineation of tumor burden by using computed tomography-based treatment planning instead of two-dimensional radiographs. Intensity-modulated RT (IMRT) and proton therapy represent advancements over 3DCRT that aim to improve the conformity of RT and provide the possibility for dose escalation to the tumor by minimizing radiation dose to organs at risk. Both techniques likely confer benefits to certain anatomic subgroups of NSCLC requiring RT. This article reviews pertinent studies evaluating the use of IMRT and proton therapy in locally advanced NSCLC, and outlines challenges, indications for use, and areas for future research.