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Open Access Open Badges Research article

A validated survival score for patients with metastatic spinal cord compression from non-small cell lung cancer

Dirk Rades14*, Sarah Douglas1, Theo Veninga2 and Steven E Schild3

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Radiation Oncology, University of Lubeck, Lubeck, Germany

2 Department of Radiation Oncology, Dr. Bernard Verbeeten Institute, Tilburg, Netherlands

3 Department of Radiation Oncology, Mayo Clinic Scottsdale, Scottsdale, AZ, USA

4 Department of Radiation Oncology, University of Lübeck, Ratzeburger Allee 160, d-23538, Lübeck, Germany

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BMC Cancer 2012, 12:302  doi:10.1186/1471-2407-12-302

Published: 20 July 2012



This multicenter study aimed to create and validate a scoring system for survival of patients with metastatic spinal cord compression (MSCC) from non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC).


The entire cohort of 356 patients was divided in a test group (N = 178) and a validation group (N = 178). In the test group, nine pre-treatment factors including age, gender, Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group performance status (ECOG-PS), number of involved vertebrae, pre-radiotherapy ambulatory status, other bone metastases, visceral metastases, interval from cancer diagnosis to radiotherapy of MSCC, and the time developing motor were retrospectively analyzed.


On multivariate analysis, survival was significantly associated with ECOG-PS, pre-radiotherapy ambulatory status, visceral metastases, and the time developing motor deficits. These factors were included in the scoring system; the score for each factor was determined by dividing the 6-month survival rate (in %) by 10. The risk score represented the sum of the scores for each factor. According to the risk scores, which ranged from 6 to 19 points, three prognostic groups were designed. The 6-month survival rates were 6% for 6–10 points, 29% for 11–15 points, and 78% for 16–19 points (p < 0.001). In the validation group, the 6-month survival rates were 4%, 24%, and 76%, respectively (p < 0.001).


Since the survival rates of the validation group were similar to those of the test group, this score can be considered reproducible. The scoring system can help when selecting the individual treatment for patients with MSCC from NSCLC. A prospective confirmatory study is warranted.

Non-small cell lung cancer; Metastatic spinal cord compression; Radiotherapy; Survival prognosis; Scoring system