COSMIC: A Regimen of Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy Plus Dose-Escalated, Raster-Scanned Carbon Ion Boost for Malignant Salivary Gland Tumors: Results of the Prospective Phase 2 Trial

Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys. 2015 Sep 1;93(1):37-46. doi: 10.1016/j.ijrobp.2015.05.013. Epub 2015 May 19.


Purpose: To investigate the effect of intensity modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) and dose-escalated carbon ion (C12) therapy in adenoid cystic carcinoma (ACC) and other malignant salivary gland tumors (MSGTs) of the head and neck.

Patients and methods: COSMIC (combined treatment of malignant salivary gland tumors with intensity modulated radiation therapy and carbon ions) is a prospective phase 2 trial of 24 Gy(RBE) C12 followed by 50 Gy IMRT in patients with pathologically confirmed MSGT. The primary endpoint is mucositis Common Terminology Criteria grade 3; the secondary endpoints are locoregional control (LC), progression-free survival (PFS), overall survival (OS), and toxicity. Toxicity was scored according to the Common Terminology Criteria for Adverse Events version 3; treatment response was scored according to Response Evaluation Criteria in Solid Tumors 1.1.

Results: Between July 2010 and August 2011, 54 patients were accrued, and 53 were available for evaluation. The median follow-up time was 42 months; patients with microscopically incomplete resections (R1, n = 20), gross residual disease (R2, n = 17), and inoperable disease (n = 16) were included. Eighty-nine percent of patients had ACC, and 57% had T4 tumors. The most common primary sites were paranasal sinus (34%), submandibular gland, and palate. At the completion of radiation therapy, 26% of patients experienced grade 3 mucositis, and 20 patients reported adverse events of the ear (38%). The most common observed late effects were grade 1 xerostomia (49%), hearing impairment (25%, 2% ipsilateral hearing loss), and adverse events of the eye (20%), but no visual impairment or loss of vision. Grade 1 central nervous system necrosis occurred in 6%, and 1 grade 4 ICA hemorrhage without neurologic sequelae. The best response was 54% (complete response/partial remission). At 3 years, the LC, PFS, and OS were 81.9%, 57.9%, and 78.4%, respectively. No difference was found regarding resection status. The most common site of failure was distant (55%). Local relapse was predominantly in field (79%).

Conclusion: Treatment was tolerated, with moderate acute and late toxicity. The LC at 3 years was promising. No significant difference could be shown regarding resection status; hence, extensive and mutilating surgical procedures should be rediscussed. Further dose escalation may be limited in view of potential vascular adverse events.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial, Phase II

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Carbon Radioisotopes / therapeutic use*
  • Carcinoma, Adenoid Cystic / radiotherapy*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Organs at Risk
  • Prospective Studies
  • Radiotherapy Dosage
  • Radiotherapy, Intensity-Modulated / adverse effects
  • Radiotherapy, Intensity-Modulated / methods*
  • Salivary Gland Neoplasms / radiotherapy*


  • Carbon Radioisotopes