HDR intraluminal brachytherapy in the treatment of malignant bronchial obstructions.
ABSTRACT Symptomatology of malignant intrabronchial obstructions has a serious negative effect on the quality of patients' life. Intrabronchial brachytherapy can play an important role in the palliation of these symptoms. Between December 1996 and September 1998 48 patients suffering from malignant intrabronchial obstructions were treated with intraluminal brachytherapy in the Dept. of Radiation Oncology at the University Maternity Hospital in Brno. Gammamed HDR automatical afterloading equipment was used to treat all patients. The first group (23 patients) was treated with a combination of intraluminal brachytherapy and external radiotherapy. The second group (18 patients who had relapsed after previous external radiotherapy) was given intraluminal radiotherapy only. A third group (7 patients) underwent intraluminal brachytherapy only. In the first group 17 patients (77%) showed symptomatic relief with tumor regression on X-ray in 16 patients and with bronchoscopic regression in 19 patients. Seven patients died before October 1998 having survived 1-6 months after the first brachytherapy application. Sixteen patients are still alive (1-14 months). In the second group, 10 patients (56%) reported significant improvement of symptoms, with endoscopic regression in 12 patients. Twelve patients died before October 1998 surviving 1-6 months after the first brachytherapy session, 6 patients are still alive 1-5 months after the first brachytherapy fraction. In the third group, bronchoscopy confirmed a complete disappearance of intrabronchial lesion in two cases with early intrabronchial tumor. Five patients reported symptomatic improvement with endoscopic regression of the tumor. There was only one complication recorded: bronchospasm in one patient. The short follow up and limited number of patients does not allow comment on the late effects and survival, yet. In conclusion, intraluminal brachytherapy is an effective and safe approach for palliation of malignant bronchial obstructions.