Acute and late complications after radiotherapy for prostate cancer: results of a multicenter randomized trial comparing 68 Gy to 78 Gy

Stephanie T H Peeters, Wilma D Heemsbergen, Wim L J van Putten, Annerie Slot, Hans Tabak, Jan Willem Mens, Joos V Lebesque, Peter C M Koper
International Journal of Radiation Oncology, Biology, Physics 2005 March 15, 61 (4): 1019-34

PURPOSE: To compare acute and late gastrointestinal (GI) and genitourinary (GU) side effects in prostate cancer patients randomized to receive 68 Gy or 78 Gy.

METHODS AND MATERIALS: Between June 1997 and February 2003, 669 prostate cancer patients were randomized between radiotherapy with a dose of 68 Gy and 78 Gy, in 2 Gy per fraction and using three-dimensional conformal radiotherapy. All T stages with prostate-specific antigen (PSA) <60 ng/mL were included, except any T1a and well-differentiated T1b-c tumors with PSA < or =4 ng/mL. Stratification was done for four dose-volume groups (according to the risk of seminal vesicles [SV] involvement), age, hormonal treatment (HT), and hospital. The clinical target volume (CTV) consisted of the prostate with or without the SV, depending on the estimated risk of SV invasion. The CTV-planning target volume (PTV) margin was 1 cm for the first 68 Gy and was reduced to 0.5 cm (0 cm toward the rectum) for the last 10 Gy in the 78 Gy arm. Four Dutch hospitals participated in this Phase III trial. Evaluation of acute and late toxicity was based on 658 and 643 patients, respectively. For acute toxicity (<120 days), the Radiation Therapy Oncology Group (RTOG) scoring system was used and the maximum score was reported. Late toxicity (>120 days) was scored according to the slightly adapted RTOG/European Organization for Research and Treatment of Cancer (EORTC) criteria.

RESULTS: The median follow-up time was 31 months. For acute toxicity no significant differences were seen between the two randomization arms. GI toxicity Grade 2 and 3 was reported as the maximum acute toxicity in 44% and 5% of the patients, respectively. For acute GU toxicity, these figures were 41% and 13%. No significant differences between both randomization arms were seen for late GI and GU toxicity, except for rectal bleeding requiring laser treatment or transfusion (p = 0.007) and nocturia (p = 0.05). The 3-year cumulative risk of late RTOG/EORTC GI toxicity grade > or =2 was 23.2% for 68 Gy, and 26.5% for 78 Gy (p = 0.3). The 3-year risks of late RTOG/EORTC GU toxicity grade > or =2 were 28.5% and 30.2% for 68 Gy and 78 Gy, respectively (p = 0.3). Factors related to acute GI toxicity were HT (p < 0.001), a higher dose-volume group (p = 0.01), and pretreatment GI symptoms (p = 0.04). For acute GU toxicity, prognostic factors were: pretreatment GU symptoms (p < 0.001), HT (p = 0.003), and prior transurethral resection of the prostate (TURP) (p = 0.02). A history of abdominal surgery (p < 0.001) and pretreatment GI symptoms (p = 0.001) were associated with a higher incidence of late GI grade > or =2 toxicity, whereas HT (p < 0.001), pretreatment GU symptoms (p < 0.001), and prior TURP (p = 0.006) were prognostic factors for late GU grade > or =2.

CONCLUSIONS: Raising the dose to the prostate from 68 Gy to 78 Gy resulted in higher incidences of acute and late GI and GU toxicity, but these differences were not significant, except for late rectal bleeding requiring treatment and late nocturia. Other factors than the studied dose levels appeared to be important in predicting toxicity after radiotherapy, especially previous surgical interventions (abdominal surgery or TURP), hormonal therapy, and the presence of pretreatment symptoms.

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