Hypofractionated Radiotherapy-Related Lymphopenia Is Associated With Worse Survival in Unresectable Intrahepatic Cholangiocarcinoma

May, 05, 2024 | Select Oncology Journal Articles


The aim of this study was to evaluate the incidence of radiotherapy (RT)-related lymphopenia, its predictors, and association with survival in unresectable intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma (ICC) treated with hypofractionated-RT (HF-RT).


Retrospective analysis of 96 patients with unresectable ICC who underwent HF-RT (median 58.05 Gy in 15 fractions) between 2009 and 2022 was performed. Absolute lymphocyte count (ALC) nadir within 12 weeks of RT was analyzed. Primary variable of interest was severe lymphopenia, defined as Grade 3+ (ALC <0.5 k/μL) per CTCAE v5.0. Primary outcome of interest was overall survival (OS) from RT.


Median follow-up was 16 months. Fifty-two percent of patients had chemotherapy pre-RT, 23% during RT, and 40% post-RT. Pre-RT, median ALC was 1.1 k/μL and 5% had severe lymphopenia. Post-RT, 68% developed RT-related severe lymphopenia. Patients who developed severe lymphopenia had a significantly lower pre-RT ALC (median 1.1 vs. 1.5 k/μL, P=0.01) and larger target tumor volume (median 125 vs. 62 cm3, P=0.02). In our multivariable Cox model, severe lymphopenia was associated with a 1.7-fold increased risk of death (P=0.04); 1-year OS rates were 63% vs 77% (P=0.03). Receipt of photon versus proton-based RT (OR=3.50, P=0.02), higher mean liver dose (OR=1.19, P<0.01), and longer RT duration (OR=1.49, P=0.02) predicted severe lymphopenia.


HF-RT-related lymphopenia is an independent prognostic factor for survival in patients with unresectable ICC. Patients with lower baseline ALC and larger tumor volume may be at increased risk, and use of proton therapy, minimizing mean liver dose, and avoiding treatment breaks may reduce RT-related lymphopenia.

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