Background: Primary results from the phase 3 ALSYMPCA trial showed that radium-223 dichloride (radium-223), a targeted α-emitter, improved overall survival compared with placebo and was well tolerated in patients with castration-resistant prostate cancer and symptomatic bone metastases. We did a prespecified subgroup analysis from ALSYMPCA to assess the effect of previous docetaxel use on the efficacy and safety of radium-223.
Methods: In the phase 3, randomised, double-blind ALSYMPCA trial, patients with symptomatic castration-resistant prostate cancer, at least two symptomatic bone metastases, no known visceral metastases, and who were receiving best standard of care were randomly assigned (2:1) via an interactive voice response system to receive six injections of radium-223 (50 kBq/kg intravenously) or matching placebo, with one injection given every 4 weeks. Patients had either received previous docetaxel treatment or were unsuitable for or declined docetaxel; previous docetaxel use (yes or no) was a trial stratification factor. We investigated the effect of previous docetaxel use on radium-223 treatment for the primary endpoint of overall survival, the main secondary efficacy endpoints, and safety. Efficacy analyses were done for the intention-to-treat population; safety analyses were done for the safety population. The trial has been completed and is registered with ClinicalTrials.gov, number NCT00699751.
Findings: Randomisation took place between June 12, 2008, and Feb 1, 2011. 526 (57%) of 921 randomly assigned patients had received previous docetaxel treatment (352 in the radium-223 group and 174 in the placebo group) and 395 (43%) had not (262 in the radium-223 group and 133 in the placebo group). Radium-223 prolonged median overall survival compared with placebo, irrespective of previous docetaxel use (previous docetaxel use, hazard ratio [HR] 0·70, 95% CI 0·56-0·88; p=0·002; no previous docetaxel use, HR 0·69, 0·52-0·92; p=0·01). The benefit of radium-223 compared with placebo was seen in both docetaxel subgroups for most main secondary efficacy endpoints; risk for time to time to first symptomatic skeletal event was reduced with radium-223 versus placebo in patients with previous docetaxel use, but the difference was not significant in those with no previous docetaxel use. 322 (62%) of 518 patients previously treated with docetaxel had grade 3-4 adverse events, compared with 205 (54%) of 383 patients without docetaxel. Patients who had previously been treated with docetaxel had a higher incidence of grade 3-4 thrombocytopenia with radium-223 than with placebo (31 [9%] of 347 patients vs five [3%] of 171 patients), whereas the incidence was similar between treatment groups among patients with no previous docetaxel use (seven [3%] of 253 patients vs one [1%] of 130 patients). The incidences of grade 3-4 anaemia and neutropenia were similar between the radium-223 and placebo groups within both docetaxel subgroups.
Interpretation: Radium-223 is effective and well tolerated in patients with castration-resistant prostate cancer and symptomatic bone metastases, irrespective of previous docetaxel use.
Funding: Algeta ASA and Bayer HealthCare Pharmaceuticals.
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