Patient-Reported Outcome Measures and Dosimetric Correlates for Early Detection of Acute Radiation Therapy–Related Esophagitis

Khinh Ranh Voong, Peijin Han, Russell Hales, Colin Hill, Cole Friedes, Todd McNutt, Shing Lee, Claire Snyder

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: We investigate the time to and clinical factors associated with patient-reported difficulty swallowing in lung cancer patients treated with radiation therapy (RT). Methods: Between October 2016 and October 2019, lung cancer patients treated with conventionally fractionated RT at a tertiary cancer center were identified. Weekly, patients reported difficulty swallowing (patient-reported outcome version of the Common Terminology Criteria for Adverse Events [PRO-CTCAE] v.1: 0-none, 1-mild, 2-moderate, 3-severe, 4-very severe). Physicians graded dysphagia (CTCAE v.4: 0-none, 1-symptoms without altered intake, 2-symptomatic; altered eating/swallowing, 3-severely altered eating/swallowing, 4-life-threatening consequences, 5-death). Tumor-related difficulty swallowing was not recorded at baseline; thus, patients reporting ≥moderate symptoms ≤7 days of RT start were excluded. We evaluated the time to new patient reports of ≥moderate difficulty swallowing and CTCAE grade 2+ dysphagia and development over time using the cumulative incidence method. Multivariable logistic regression evaluated associations between clinical factors, esophageal V60, and development of esophageal symptoms. Results: Of the 200 patients identified: median age was 69 years, 52% were male, and 89% had stage III+ disease. Patients received a median of 63 Gy with chemotherapy (91.5%). At least moderate difficulty swallowing during RT was reported by 76 of 200 patients (38%); clinicians rated dysphagia as altering oral intake or worse for 26 of 200 (13%). Median time to first report of symptoms was 21 days (interquartile ratio [IQR], 18-34.5) for the 76 patients who reported ≥moderate symptoms and 33 days (IQR, 24-42) in the 26 patients whose provider reported grade 2+ dysphagia. The 30-day incidence of patient-reported ≥moderate swallowing difficulty and provider grade 2+ dysphagia was 26% (95% CI: 20%-32%) and 6% (95% CI: 3%-9%), respectively. Esophageal V60 >7 % was the clinical factor most associated with patient-reported ≥moderate esophageal symptoms (odds ratio 6.1, 95% CI: 3.0-12.3). Conclusions: Patients report at least moderate difficulty swallowing more often and earlier than providers report grade 2+ dysphagia. Esophageal V60 ≥7% was most associated with development of moderate severity or worse patient-reported swallowing difficulty.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)185-192
Number of pages8
JournalPractical Radiation Oncology
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 1 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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