Predictive value of histologic tumor necrosis after radiation

Yuhchyau Chen, Alphonse G. Taghian, Andrew E. Rosenberg, John O'Connell, Paul Okunieff, Herman D. Suit

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Postsurgical evaluation of histologic changes of tumors after preoperative chemotherapy and/or radiotherapy has been a routine clinical practice of pathologists and oncologists. There appears to be secure evidence that the extent of tumor necrosis vs. viable tumor cells postchemotherapy is a clinically useful predictor of outcome. The significance of histologic tumor necrosis after radiotherapy, however, has not been clearly established and deserves further investigation. We investigated the correlation between histological extent of tumor necrosis, survival of tumor transplants, and radiation doses in an experimental model using three human tumor xenografts. Three human tumor cell lines were investigated: STS-26, SCC-21, and HGL-21. Tumors were grown subcutaneously in athymic nude mice and received external beam radiation of different doses. Tumors were excised 2 weeks postirradiation. One-half of the tumor was divided into 1-mm3 fragments and transplanted to naive mice. The other half was examined for histologic tumor necrosis. Transplant survival was strongly correlated with radiation dose, TCDp (radiation dose that results in local tumor control in proportion, p, to irradiated tumors). In contrast, there was no clear association between transplant survival rate and the extent of tumor necrosis. The experimental model demonstrated a strong inverse correlation between radiation doses and tumor transplant survival. Histologic tumor necrosis did not correlate well with radiation doses or transplant survival rates. Despite common practices in histologic examination of tumors posttherapy, clinical interpretations and implications of histologic tumor necrosis after radiotherapy should be considered with caution.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)334-340
Number of pages7
JournalInternational Journal of Cancer
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 20 2001
Externally publishedYes


  • Histology
  • Human tumor xenograft
  • Radiation
  • Tumor control

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cancer Research
  • Oncology


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