Phase III trial of accelerated hyperfractionation with or without difluromethylornithine (DFMO) versus standard fractionated radiotherapy with or without DFMO for newly diagnosed patients with glioblastoma multiforme

Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys. 2001 Jan 1;49(1):71-7. doi: 10.1016/s0360-3016(00)01458-9.


Purpose: To report the results of a prospective Phase III trial for patients with newly diagnosed glioblastoma multiforme (GBM), treated with either accelerated hyperfractionated irradiation with or without difluromethylornithine (DFMO) or standard fractionated irradiation with or without DFMO.

Methods and materials: Adult patients with newly diagnosed GBM were registered and randomized following surgery to one of 4 treatment arms: Arm A, accelerated hyperfractionation alone using 2 fractions a day of 1.6 Gy to a total dose of 70.4 Gy in 44 fractions; Arm B, accelerated hyperfractionation as above plus DFMO 1.8 gm/m2 by mouth every 8 h beginning one week before radiation until the last fraction was given; Arm C, single-fraction irradiation of 1.8 Gy/day to 59.4 Gy; Arm D, single-fraction irradiation as in Arm C plus DFMO given as in Arm B. Patients were followed for progression-free survival (PFS) and overall survival (OS), as well as for toxicity. Eligibility required histologically proven GBM, age > or =18, Karnofsky performance status (KPS) > or =60, and no prior chemotherapy or radiotherapy. Adjuvant chemotherapy was not used in this protocol.

Results: A total of 231 eligible patients were enrolled. There were 95 men and 136 women with a median age of 57 years, and median KPS of 90. Extent of resection was total in 23, subtotal in 152, and biopsy only in 56 patients. The 4 arms were balanced with respect to age, KPS, and extent of resection. Times to event measurements are from date of diagnosis. Median OS and PFS were 40 and 19 weeks for Arm A; 42 and 22 weeks for Arm B; 37 and 16 weeks for Arm C; and 44 and 19 weeks for Arm D (p = 0.48 for survival; p = 0.32 for PFS). Comparison of the 2 arms treated with DFMO to the 2 arms without DFMO revealed no difference in OS (37 weeks vs. 42 weeks, p = 0.12) or PFS and thus no benefit to the use of DFMO. Comparison of the 2 standard fractionation arms to the 2 accelerated hyperfractionation arms also resulted in no difference in OS (42 weeks vs. 41 weeks, p = 0.75) or PFS, showing no benefit to accelerated hyperfractionated irradiation.

Conclusion: In this prospective Phase III study, no survival or PFS benefit was seen with accelerated hyperfractionated irradiation to 70.4 Gy, nor was any benefit seen with DFMO as a radiosensitizer. Standard fractionated irradiation to 59.4 Gy remains the treatment of choice for newly diagnosed patients with glioblastoma multiforme.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Clinical Trial, Phase III
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Antineoplastic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Brain Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Brain Neoplasms / radiotherapy*
  • Brain Neoplasms / surgery
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Disease-Free Survival
  • Eflornithine / therapeutic use*
  • Glioblastoma / drug therapy*
  • Glioblastoma / mortality
  • Glioblastoma / radiotherapy*
  • Glioblastoma / surgery
  • Humans
  • Karnofsky Performance Status
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Proportional Hazards Models
  • Prospective Studies
  • Radiation-Sensitizing Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Radiotherapy Dosage


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Radiation-Sensitizing Agents
  • Eflornithine