Results of a prospective randomised trial comparing conventional radiotherapy to split course bifractionated radiation therapy in patients with nasopharyngeal carcinoma.Radiother Oncol 2007; 85(1):17-23RO
BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE
Nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC) is generally responsive to radiation therapy. However therapeutic results after conventional radiotherapy remain relatively poor especially for patients with locoregional advanced NPC. The aim of this study was to evaluate the impact of a split course bifractionated radiotherapy regimen in a phase III randomised trial.
PATIENTS AND METHODS
From January 1997 to September 2003, 154 patients with M0 histologically proven NPC were treated in our institution. They were staged according to the American Joint Committee on Cancer - International Union Against Cancer (AJCC-UICC) 1986 TNM classification. Patients with locally advanced nodal disease (N2-N3) received induction chemotherapy. All patients were randomised to receive either conventional radiotherapy at 2 Gy/fraction/day, 5 days/week to 70 Gy/7 weeks or split course bifractionated radiotherapy at 1.6 Gy/fraction, twice daily, 5 days/week to 70.4 Gy/6 weeks. Response and toxicity were evaluated according to the WHO and RTOG criteria.
Patients were well balanced between the two arms. The complete remission rate was 91% in conventional radiotherapy arm and 93% in bifractionated radiotherapy arm (p=0.3). There was more grade II-III skin fibrosis in experimental arm with a 5 year actuarial probability of 66% vs 52% (p=0.04). Locoregional and distant relapses occurred in 34% of cases in conventional arm and 38% in experimental arm (p=0.28). With a median follow-up of 56 months, the 5 year overall survival and the disease free survival rates were, respectively (71% and 61%), in conventional arm and (62% and 60%) in bifractionated arm, the difference being statistically non significant.
The present trial comparing conventional radiotherapy to a split course bifractionated radiation therapy failed to demonstrate significant improvement in locoregional control and survival in experimental arm which was associated with more grade II-III skin fibrosis.