Journal of clinical oncology : official journal of the American Society of Clinical Oncology 1997-07
Irradiation in the setting of collagen vascular disease: acute and late complications.   
Based on reports of greater toxicity from radiation therapy, collagen vascular diseases (CVDs) have been considered a contraindication to irradiation. We assessed the complications of radiation therapy in patients with CVD.
A total of 209 patients with documented CVD were irradiated between 1960 and 1995. One hundred thirty-one had rheumatoid arthritis (RA), 25 had systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE); 17 had polymyositis or dermatomyositis; 16 had scleroderma; eight had ankylosing spondylitis; five had juvenile RA; three had discoid lupus erythematosus; and four had 4 mixed connective tissue disorders (MCTD). The mean follow-up duration of curative cases was more than 6 years. Doses ranged from 10 to 87.6 Gy, with a median of 45 Gy.
Overall, 263 sites were assessable in 209 patients. Significant (> or = grade 3) acute toxicity was seen in 10% of irradiated sites. Severe late effects were associated with significant acute reactions and with non-RA CVDs (6% v 21% at 5 years). No difference was seen in late effects according to timing of CVD onset, presence of concurrent vascular insults, radiation dose, or other technical factors, or by measures of disease activity.
RA does not appear to have an elevated rate of late toxicity. While non-RA CVD is significantly associated with increased radiation late effects at standard doses, radiation-related mortality remains exceedingly rare. The choice of therapeutic modality in this radiosensitive group of patients should be made on a case-by-case basis.

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