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Factors determining the survival of nasopharyngeal carcinoma with lung metastasis alone: does combined modality treatment benefit?

Xun Cao12, Li-Ru He13, Fang-Yun Xie13, You-Fang Chen12 and Zhe-Sheng Wen12*

Author affiliations

1 State Key Laboratory of Oncology in South China, Cancer Center, Sun Yat-Sen University, Guangzhou, China

2 Department of Thoracic Oncology, Cancer Center, Sun Yat-Sen University, No.651, Dongfeng Road East, Guangzhou, China

3 Department of Radiation Oncology, Cancer Center, Sun Yat-Sen University, No.651, Dongfeng Road East, Guangzhou, China

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Citation and License

BMC Cancer 2011, 11:370  doi:10.1186/1471-2407-11-370

Published: 24 August 2011



Nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC) with lung metastasis alone has been reported as a relatively favorable prognostic group, and combined modality treatment might be indicated for selected cases. However, the prognostic factors determining survival of this group and the indication of combined therapy have not been thoroughly studied.


We retrospectively reviewed 246 patients of NPC with lung metastasis(es) alone presented at diagnosis or as the first failure after primary treatment from 1993 to 2008 in an academic tertiary hospital. Univariate and multivariate survival analyses of post-metastasis survival (PMS) and overall survival (OS) were carried out to determine the prognostic factors.


The 3-year, 5-year, and 10-year of PMS and OS for the whole cohort were 34.3%, 17.0%, 8.6% and 67.8%, 45.4%, 18.5%, respectively. The median PMS (45.6 months vs. 23.7 months) and OS (73.7 months vs. 46.2 months) of patients treated with combined therapy was significantly longer than that of those treated with chemotherapy alone (P < 0.001). Age, disease-free interval (DFI) and treatment modality were evaluated as independent prognostic factors of OS, while only age and treatment modality retain their independent significance in PMS analysis. In stratified survival analysis, compared to chemotherapy alone, combined therapy could benefit the patients with DFI > 1 year, but not those with DFI ≤ 1 year.


Age ≤ 45 years, DFI > 1 year, and the combined therapy were good prognostic factors for NPC patients with lung metastasis(es) alone. The combination of local therapy and the basic chemotherapy should be considered for these patients with DFI > 1 year.