Clinically validated model predicts the effect of intratumoral heterogeneity on overall survival for non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) patients

Nima Ghaderi, Joseph H. Jung, David J. Odde, Jeffrey Peacock

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVE: Radiation therapy is used in nearly 50% of cancer treatments in the developed world. Currently, radiation treatments are homogenous and fail to take into consideration intratumoral heterogeneity. We demonstrate the importance of considering intratumoral heterogeneity and the development of resistance during fractionated radiotherapy when the same dose of radiation is delivered for all fractions (Fractional Equivalent Dosing FED).

METHODS: A mathematical model was developed with the following parameters: a starting population of 10 11 non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) tumor cells, 48 h doubling time, and cell death per the linear-quadratic (LQ) model with α and β values derived from RSIα/β, in a previously described gene expression based model that estimates α and β. To incorporate both inter- and intratumor radiation sensitivity, RSIα/β output for each patient sample is assumed to represent an average value in a gamma distribution with the bounds set to -50% and +50% of RSIα/b. Therefore, we assume that within a given tumor there are subpopulations that have varying radiation sensitivity parameters that are distinct from other tumor samples with a different mean RSIα/β. A simulation cohort (SC) comprised of 100 lung cancer patients with available RSIα/β (patient specific α and β values) was used to investigate 60 Gy in 30 fractions with fractionally equivalent dosing (FED). A separate validation cohort (VC) of 57 lung cancer patients treated with radiation with available local control (LC), overall survival (OS), and tumor gene expression was used to clinically validate the model. Cox regression was used to test for significance to predict clinical outcomes as a continuous variable in multivariate analysis (MVA). Finally, the VC was used to compare FED schedules with various altered fractionation schema utilizing a Kruskal-Wallis test. This was examined using the end points of end of treatment log cell count (LCC) and by a parameter described as mean log kill efficiency (LKE) defined as: LCC  =  log10(tumorcellcount) [Formula: see text] RESULTS: Cox regression analysis on LCC for the VC demonstrates that, after incorporation of intratumoral heterogeneity, LCC has a linear correlation with local control (p = 0.002) and overall survival (p = < 0.001). Other suggested treatment schedules labeled as High Intensity Treatment (HIT) with a total 60 Gy delivered over 6 weeks have a lower mean LCC and an increased LKE compared to standard of care 60 Gy delivered in FED in the VC.

CONCLUSION: We find that LCC is a clinically relevant metric that is correlated with local control and overall survival in NSCLC. We conclude that 60 Gy delivered over 6 weeks with altered HIT fractionation leads to an enhancement in tumor control compared to FED when intratumoral heterogeneity is considered.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number106455
JournalComputer Methods and Programs in Biomedicine
StatePublished - Nov 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021


  • Fractional Equivalent Dosing
  • Hypofractionation
  • Intratumoral Heterogeneity
  • Linear Quadratic Model
  • Mathematical Modelling
  • Non-small Cell Lung Cancer
  • Personalized Medicine
  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung/radiotherapy
  • Dose Fractionation, Radiation
  • Humans
  • Lung Neoplasms/radiotherapy
  • Linear Models

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article


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