Neoadjuvant chemotherapy and extrapleural pneumonectomy of malignant pleural mesothelioma with or without hemithoracic radiotherapy (SAKK 17/04): a randomised, international, multicentre phase 2 trial

Lancet Oncol. 2015 Dec;16(16):1651-8. doi: 10.1016/S1470-2045(15)00208-9. Epub 2015 Nov 2.


Background: Postoperative hemithoracic radiotherapy has been used to treat malignant pleural mesothelioma, but it has not been assessed in a randomised trial. We assessed high-dose hemithoracic radiotherapy after neoadjuvant chemotherapy and extrapleural pneumonectomy in patients with malignant pleural mesothelioma.

Methods: We did this phase 2 trial in two parts at 14 hospitals in Switzerland, Belgium, and Germany. We enrolled patients with pathologically confirmed malignant pleural mesothelioma; resectable TNM stages T1-3 N0-2, M0; WHO performance status 0-1; age 18-70 years. In part 1, patients were given three cycles of neoadjuvant chemotherapy (cisplatin 75 mg/m(2) and pemetrexed 500 mg/m(2) on day 1 given every 3 weeks) and extrapleural pneumonectomy; the primary endpoint was complete macroscopic resection (R0-1). In part 2, participants with complete macroscopic resection were randomly assigned (1:1) to receive high-dose radiotherapy or not. The target volume for radiotherapy encompassed the entire hemithorax, the thoracotomy channel, and mediastinal nodal stations if affected by the disease or violated surgically. A boost was given to areas at high risk for locoregional relapse. The allocation was stratified by centre, histology (sarcomatoid vs epithelioid or mixed), mediastinal lymph node involvement (N0-1 vs N2), and T stage (T1-2 vs T3). The primary endpoint of part 1 was the proportion of patients achieving complete macroscopic resection (R0 and R1). The primary endpoint in part 2 was locoregional relapse-free survival, analysed by intention to treat. The trial is registered with, number NCT00334594.

Findings: We enrolled patients between Dec 7, 2005, and Oct 17, 2012. Overall, we analysed 151 patients receiving neoadjuvant chemotherapy, of whom 113 (75%) had extrapleural pneumonectomy. Median follow-up was 54·2 months (IQR 32-66). 52 (34%) of 151 patients achieved an objective response. The most common grade 3 or 4 toxic effects were neutropenia (21 [14%] of 151 patients), anaemia (11 [7%]), and nausea or vomiting (eight [5%]). 113 patients had extrapleural pneumonectomy, with complete macroscopic resection achieved in 96 (64%) of 151 patients. We enrolled 54 patients in part 2; 27 in each group. The main reasons for exclusion were patient refusal (n=20) and ineligibility (n=10). 25 of 27 patients completed radiotherapy. Median total radiotherapy dose was 55·9 Gy (IQR 46·8-56·0). Median locoregional relapse-free survival from surgery, was 7·6 months (95% CI 4·5-10·7) in the no radiotherapy group and 9·4 months (6·5-11·9) in the radiotherapy group. The most common grade 3 or higher toxic effects related to radiotherapy were nausea or vomiting (three [11%] of 27 patients), oesophagitis (two [7%]), and pneumonitis (two [7%]). One patient died of pneumonitis. We recorded no toxic effects data for the control group.

Interpretation: Our findings do not support the routine use of hemithoracic radiotherapy for malignant pleural mesothelioma after neoadjuvant chemotherapy and extrapleural pneumonectomy.

Funding: Swiss Group for Clinical Cancer Research, Swiss State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation, Eli Lilly.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial, Phase II
  • Comparative Study
  • Multicenter Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols / adverse effects
  • Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols / therapeutic use*
  • Chemotherapy, Adjuvant
  • Cisplatin / therapeutic use
  • Disease Progression
  • Disease-Free Survival
  • Europe
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intention to Treat Analysis
  • Kaplan-Meier Estimate
  • Lung Neoplasms / mortality
  • Lung Neoplasms / pathology
  • Lung Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Lymphatic Metastasis
  • Male
  • Mesothelioma / mortality
  • Mesothelioma / pathology
  • Mesothelioma / therapy*
  • Mesothelioma, Malignant
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoadjuvant Therapy* / adverse effects
  • Neoadjuvant Therapy* / mortality
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Pemetrexed / therapeutic use
  • Pleural Neoplasms / mortality
  • Pleural Neoplasms / pathology
  • Pleural Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Pneumonectomy* / adverse effects
  • Pneumonectomy* / mortality
  • Proportional Hazards Models
  • Radiotherapy Dosage*
  • Radiotherapy, Adjuvant
  • Risk Factors
  • Time Factors
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Pemetrexed
  • Cisplatin

Associated data