Background: Continuous hyperfractionated accelerated radiotherapy (CHART) counteracts repopulation and may significantly improve outcome of patients with non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC). Nevertheless high local failure rates call for radiation dose escalation. We report here the final results of the multicentric CHARTWEL trial (CHART weekend less, ARO 97-1).
Patients and methods: Four hundred and six patients with NSCLC were stratified according to stage, histology, neoadjuvant chemotherapy and centre and were randomized to receive 3D-planned radiotherapy to 60Gy/40 fractions/2.5weeks (CHARTWEL) or 66Gy/33 fractions/6.5weeks (conventional fractionation, CF).
Results: Overall survival (OS, primary endpoint) at 2, 3 and 5yr was not significantly different after CHARTWEL (31%, 22% and 11%) versus CF (32%, 18% and 7%; HR 0.92, 95% CI 0.75-1.13, p=0.43). Also local tumour control rates and distant metastases did not significantly differ. Acute dysphagia and radiological pneumonitis were more pronounced after CHARTWEL, without differences in clinical signs of pneumopathy. Exploratory analysis revealed a significant trend for improved LC after CHARTWEL versus CF with increasing UICC, T or N stage (p=0.006-0.025) and after neoadjuvant chemotherapy (HR 0.48, 0.26-0.89, p=0.019).
Conclusions: Overall, outcome after CHARTWEL or CF was not different. The lower total dose in the CHARTWEL arm was compensated by the shorter overall treatment time, confirming a time factor for NSCLC. The higher efficacy of CHARTWEL versus CF in advanced stages and after chemotherapy provides a basis for further trials on treatment intensification for locally advanced NSCLC.
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