Purpose: To report the long-term results of a randomized radiotherapy dose escalation trial for prostate cancer.
Methods and materials: From 1993 to 1998, a total of 301 patients with stage T1b to T3 prostate cancer were accrued to a randomized external beam dose escalation trial using 70 Gy versus 78 Gy. The median follow-up is now 8.7 years. Kaplan-Meier analysis was used to compute rates of prostate-specific antigen (PSA) failure (nadir + 2), clinical failure, distant metastasis, disease-specific, and overall survival as well as complication rates at 8 years post-treatment.
Results: For all patients, freedom from biochemical or clinical failure (FFF) was superior for the 78-Gy arm, 78%, as compared with 59% for the 70-Gy arm (p = 0.004, and an even greater benefit was seen in patients with initial PSA >10 ng/ml (78% vs. 39%, p = 0.001). The clinical failure rate was significantly reduced in the 78-Gy arm as well (7% vs. 15%, p = 0.014). Twice as many patients either died of prostate cancer or are currently alive with cancer in the 70-Gy arm. Gastrointestinal toxicity of grade 2 or greater occurred twice as often in the high dose patients (26% vs. 13%), although genitourinary toxicity of grade 2 or greater was less (13% vs. 8%) and not statistically significantly different. Dose-volume histogram analysis showed that the complication rate could be significantly decreased by reducing the amount of treated rectum.
Conclusions: Modest escalation in radiotherapy dose improved freedom from biochemical and clinical progression with the largest benefit in prostate cancer patients with PSA >10 ng/ml.