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Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys. 1995 Jun 15;32(3):589-97.

Randomized phase I/II trial of two variants of accelerated fractionated radiotherapy regimens for advanced head and neck cancer: results of RTOG 88-09.

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  • 1Department of Radiation Oncology, University of California San Francisco 94143-0226, USA.



To establish the feasibility of performing split-course accelerated hyperfractionation (AHFX-S) and concomitant boost accelerated fractionation radiotherapy (AFX-C) for advanced head and neck cancer in a multi-institutional cooperative trial setting and to evaluate the tumor clearance rate and acute and late toxicity of these fractionation schedules.


Between February 1989 and January 1990, 75 patients with Stage III or IV squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck were randomized to receive: (a) AHFX-S: 1.6 Gy/fraction, twice daily (6-h interval), 5 days/week, to a total dose of 67.2 Gy/42 fractions/6 weeks, with a 2-week rest after 38.4 Gy; or (b) AFX-C: 1.8 Gy/fraction/day, 5 daily fractions/week to 54 Gy/30 fractions/6 weeks to a large field and 1.5 Gy/fraction/day to a boost field, 6 h after large field treatment during the last 11 treatment days, to a total dose of 70.5 Gy/41 fractions/6 weeks. Acute and late toxicities were scored according to the RTOG normal tissue reaction scales and tumor clearance was evaluated at completion of therapy and at regular intervals thereafter.


Of the 70 analyzable patients, 38 received AHFX-S and 32 received AFX-C. The two arms were balanced with respect to sex, age, T-stage, and Karnofsky Performance Status (KPS). However, the AHFX-S arm had a higher proportion of oropharyngeal primaries (63% vs. 44%), and Stage IV disease (82% vs. 50%) and lower proportion of oral cavity lesions (3% vs. 22%) and N0 disease (16% vs. 31%) than the AFX-C arm. The median follow-up was 2 years (range: 0.03-4.87 years). Tolerance of both variants of accelerated fractionated radiotherapy was satisfactory. There was no significant difference in local-regional control, disease-free survival, or survival between the two arms. The 2-year local-regional failure rate, survival, and disease-free survival was 50, 50, and 40%, respectively, for the entire group of patients. Acute radiation mucositis was increased in both arms. There was no significant difference in the incidence of grade 3 acute toxicities (63% vs. 56%) and grade 3 (14% vs. 14%) or grade 4 (6% vs. 17%) late toxicities. Permanent grade 4 late toxicity was observed in 6 and 7% of the patients, respectively.


Results of this randomized Phase I/II trial showed that the two accelerated fractionated schedules studied can be successfully given in a multi-institutional cooperative trial. There was no significant difference in acute or late toxicities, local-regional control, disease-free survival, or survival in this small scale study. Therefore, a Phase III trial comparing the relative efficacy of these two accelerated fractionation schedules against standard fractionation and hyperfractionation has been activated.

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