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Medline ® Abstract for Reference 66

of 'Bleomycin-induced lung injury'

Pulmonary complications after bleomycin, irradiation and surgery for esophageal cancer.
Nygaard K, Smith-Erichsen N, Hatlevoll R, Refsum SB
Cancer. 1978;41(1):17.
Eight patients with epidermoid carcinoma of the esophagus were given radiotherapy of 3000 rads and 120 mg of bleomycin. Esophageal resection was performed five to six weeks later. Four of these patients died within six weeks, three from respiratory failure, and one from complications secondary to an anastomotic fistula. Of the remaining four patients, three showed varying degrees of pulmonary infiltration for several weeks. Interstitial pneumonitis was demonstrated in all the fatal cases. Four patients given the same irradiation and bleomycin doses were only subjected to exploratory surgery. They had no postoperative pulmonary complications. Ten patients given the same irradiation and bleomycin treatment without surgery also showed no pulmonary complications. Sixteen patients received higher doses of radiotherapy and bleomycin. Seven of these developed lung infiltrations terminating fatally in four. The likely mechanism of the observed postoperative pulmonary complications is that the preoperative treatment sensitized the lungs, while the subsequent surgical trauma triggered a reaction in the lungs leading to respiratory failure.