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Radiother Oncol. 1998 Feb;46(2):135-46.

A randomized double-blind phase III study of nimorazole as a hypoxic radiosensitizer of primary radiotherapy in supraglottic larynx and pharynx carcinoma. Results of the Danish Head and Neck Cancer Study (DAHANCA) Protocol 5-85.

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Department of Experimental Clinical Oncology, Danish Cancer Society, Aarhus University Hospital, Aarhus C, Denmark.



A multicenter randomized and balanced double-blind trial with the objective of assessing the efficacy and tolerance of nimorazole given as a hypoxic radiosensitizer in conjunction with primary radiotherapy of invasive carcinoma of the supraglottic larynx and pharynx.


Between January 1986 and September 1990, 422 patients (414 eligible) with pharynx and supraglottic larynx carcinoma were double-blind randomized to receive the hypoxic cell radiosensitizer nimorazole, or placebo, in association with conventional primary radiotherapy (62-68 Gy, 2 Gy per fraction, five fractions per week). The median observation time was 112 months.


Univariate analysis showed that the outcome (5-year actuarial loco-regional tumor control) was significantly related to T-classification (T1-T2 48% versus T3-T4 36%, P = 0.0008), neck-nodes (N- 53% versus N+ 33%), pre-irradiation hemoglobin (Hb) concentration (high 46% versus low 37%, P = 0.02) and sex (females 51% versus males 38%, P = 0.03). Overall the nimorazole group showed a significantly better loco-regional control rate than the placebo group (49 versus 33%, P = 0.002). A similar significant benefit of nimorazole was observed for the end-points of final loco-regional control (including surgical salvage) and cancer-related deaths (52 versus 41%, P = 0.002). This trend was also found in the overall survival but to a lesser, non-significant extent (26 versus 16%, 10-year actuarial values, P = 0.32). Cox multivariate regression analysis showed the most important prognostic parameters for loco-regional control to be positive neck nodes (relative risk 1.84 (1.38-2.45)), T3-T4 tumor (relative risk 1.65 (1.25-2.17)) and nimorazole (relative risk 0.69 (0.52-0.90)). The same parameters were also significantly related to the probability of dying from cancer. The compliance to radiotherapy was good and 98% of the patients received the planned dose. Late radiation-related morbidity was observed in 10% of the patients, irrespective of nimorazole treatment. Drug-related side-effects were minor and tolerable with transient nausea and vomiting being the most frequent complications.


Nimorazole significantly improves the effect of radiotherapeutic management of supraglottic and pharynx tumors and can be given without major side-effects.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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