A Review of Superior Vena Cava Obstruction in Hong Kong Chinese Patients

HPS Wai, RMW Yeung, WM Sze, TK Yau, AWM Lee

Hong Kong J Radiol 2001;4:143-5

Superior vena cava obstruction is, in the majority of patients, due to the presence of a malignant tumour within the mediastinum, i.e. lung cancer and lymphoma. It is usually highly responsive to radiotherapy, regardless of the underlying tumour type. This article briefly reviews the diagnosis, presentation, and results of radiotherapy in a total of 49 patients with superior vena cava obstruction who presented to the department of clinical oncology at the Pamela Youde Nethersole Eastern Hospital between 1 January 1996 and 31 December 1999. Lung cancer accounted for the majority of cases of superior vena cava obstruction. The most common presenting symptoms were facial and upper limb oedema; all patients presented with a history of symptoms of less than 3 months duration. The median survival was 6 weeks after diagnosis. Radiotherapy was well tolerated and produced good symptom relief.