Cancer Treatment-Related Lung Injury

  • Vickie R. ShannonEmail author
Reference work entry


Lung injury associated with cancer therapeutics is often the limiting factor that trumps otherwise successful cancer therapy. Thoracic radiation as well as cancer pharmacotherapeutics, including conventional chemotherapy, molecular targeted agents, and cancer immunotherapies, have been associated with a unique spectrum of histopathologic injury patterns that may involve the lung parenchyma, pleura, airways, and/or pulmonary vasculature. Injury patterns may be idiosyncratic, unpredictable, and highly variable from one agent class to the next. Variability in lung injury patterns within a specific therapeutic class of drugs also occurs, adding to the conundrum. Drug-induced toxicities to the thoracic cavity are infrequent, and early recognition of clinical clues portends a good outcome in most cases. Failure to recognize early clinical signs, however, may result in irreversible and potentially lethal consequences.

This chapter provides an overview of our current knowledge of thoracic complications associated with cancer pharmacotherapies. The review is not intended to be a treatise of all cancer agents that adversely affect the lungs, but rather a discussion of established risk factors and histopathologic patterns of lung injury associated with broad classes of cancer agents. Optimal management strategies, based on existing clinical experience, will also be discussed. Complications associated with thoracic radiation are also reviewed. It is hoped that these discussions will facilitate early recognition and management of treatment-related thoracic complications and, ultimately, better patient outcomes.


Drug-induced lung disease Lung injury Toxicity Chemotherapy Immunotherapy Targeted therapy Radiation Pneumonitis Malignancy Pulmonary Interstitial pneumonitis Pleural effusions Respiratory Cancer treatment 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Pulmonary Medicine, Division of Internal MedicineThe University of Texas at MD Anderson Cancer CenterHoustonUSA

Section editors and affiliations

  • Yenny Cardenas
    • 1
  1. 1.Critical Care DepartmentUniversidad del Rosario Hospital Universitario Fundacion Santa Fe deBogotaColombia

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