The early toxicity of escalated versus standard dose conformal radiotherapy with neo-adjuvant androgen suppression for patients with localised prostate cancer: results from the MRC RT01 trial (ISRCTN47772397)

David P Dearnaley, Matthew R Sydes, Ruth E Langley, John D Graham, Robert A Huddart, Isabel Syndikus, John H L Matthews, Christopher D Scrase, Chakiath C Jose, John Logue, Richard J Stephens
Radiotherapy and Oncology 2007, 83 (1): 31-41

BACKGROUND: Five-year disease-free survival rates for localised prostate cancer following standard doses of conventional radical external beam radiotherapy are around 80%. Conformal radiotherapy (CFRT) raises the possibility that radiotherapy doses can be increased and long-term efficacy outcomes improved, with safety an important consideration.

METHODS: MRC RT01 is a randomised controlled trial of 862 men with localised prostate cancer comparing Standard CFRT (64Gy/32f) versus Escalated CFRT (74Gy/37f), both administered with neo-adjuvant androgen suppression. Early toxicity was measured using physician-reported instruments (RTOG, LENT/SOM, Royal Marsden Scales) and patient-reported questionnaires (MOS SF-36, UCLA Prostate Cancer Index, FACT-P).

RESULTS: Overall early radiotherapy toxicity was similar, apart from increased bladder, bowel and sexual toxicity, in the Escalated Group during a short immediate post-radiotherapy period. Toxicity in both groups had abated by week 12. Using RTOG Acute Toxicity scores, cumulative Grade 2 bladder and bowel toxicity was 38% and 30% for Standard Group and 39% and 33% in Escalated Group, respectively. Urinary frequency (Royal Marsden Scale) improved in both groups from pre-androgen suppression to 6 months post-radiotherapy (p<0.001), but bowel and sexual functioning deteriorated. This pattern was supported by patient-completed assessments. Six months after starting radiotherapy the incidence of RTOG Grade > or = 2 side-effects was low (<1%); but there were six reports of rectal ulceration (6 Escalated Group), six haematuria (5 Escalated Group) and eight urethral stricture (6 Escalated Group).

CONCLUSIONS: The two CFRT schedules with neo-adjuvant androgen suppression have broadly similar early toxicity profiles except for the immediate post-RT period. At 6 months and compared to before hormone therapy, bladder symptoms improved, whereas bowel and sexual symptoms worsened. These assessments of early treatment safety will be complemented by further follow-up to document late side-effects and efficacy.

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