Background: Hypofractionated radiotherapy for prostate cancer has gained increased attention due to its proposed high radiation-fraction sensitivity. Recent reports from studies comparing moderately hypofractionated and conventionally fractionated radiotherapy support the clinical use of moderate hypofractionation. To date, there are no published randomised studies on ultra-hypofractionated radiotherapy. Here, we report the outcomes of the Scandinavian HYPO-RT-PC phase 3 trial with the aim to show non-inferiority of ultra-hypofractionation compared with conventional fractionation.
Methods: In this open-label, randomised, phase 3 non-inferiority trial done in 12 centres in Sweden and Denmark, we recruited men up to 75 years of age with intermediate-to-high-risk prostate cancer and a WHO performance status between 0 and 2. Patients were randomly assigned to ultra-hypofractionation (42·7 Gy in seven fractions, 3 days per week for 2·5 weeks) or conventional fractionated radiotherapy (78·0 Gy in 39 fractions, 5 days per week for 8 weeks). No androgen deprivation therapy was allowed. The primary endpoint was time to biochemical or clinical failure, analysed in the per-protocol population. The prespecified non-inferiority margin was 4% at 5 years, corresponding to a critical hazard ratio (HR) limit of 1·338. Physician-recorded toxicity was measured according to the Radiation Therapy Oncology Group (RTOG) morbidity scale and patient-reported outcome measurements with the Prostate Cancer Symptom Scale (PCSS) questionnaire. This trial is registered with the ISRCTN registry, number ISRCTN45905321.
Findings: Between July 1, 2005, and Nov 4, 2015, 1200 patients were randomly assigned to conventional fractionation (n=602) or ultra-hypofractionation (n=598), of whom 1180 (591 conventional fractionation and 589 ultra-hypofractionation) constituted the per-protocol population. 1054 (89%) participants were intermediate risk and 126 (11%) were high risk. Median follow-up time was 5·0 years (IQR 3·1-7·0). The estimated failure-free survival at 5 years was 84% (95% CI 80-87) in both treatment groups, with an adjusted HR of 1·002 (95% CI 0·758-1·325; log-rank p=0·99). There was weak evidence of an increased frequency of acute physician-reported RTOG grade 2 or worse urinary toxicity in the ultra-hypofractionation group at end of radiotherapy (158 [28%] of 569 patients vs 132 [23%] of 578 patients; p=0·057). There were no significant differences in grade 2 or worse urinary or bowel late toxicity between the two treatment groups at any point after radiotherapy, except for an increase in urinary toxicity in the ultra-hypofractionation group compared to the conventional fractionation group at 1-year follow-up (32 [6%] of 528 patients vs 13 [2%] of 529 patients; (p=0·0037). We observed no differences between groups in frequencies at 5 years of RTOG grade 2 or worse urinary toxicity (11 [5%] of 243 patients for the ultra-hypofractionation group vs 12 [5%] of 249 for the conventional fractionation group; p=1·00) and bowel toxicity (three [1%] of 244 patients vs nine [4%] of 249 patients; p=0·14). Patient-reported outcomes revealed significantly higher levels of acute urinary and bowel symptoms in the ultra-hypofractionation group compared with the conventional fractionation group but no significant increases in late symptoms were found, except for increased urinary symptoms at 1-year follow-up, consistent with the physician-evaluated toxicity.
Interpretation: Ultra-hypofractionated radiotherapy is non-inferior to conventionally fractionated radiotherapy for intermediate-to-high risk prostate cancer regarding failure-free survival. Early side-effects are more pronounced with ultra-hypofractionation compared with conventional fractionation whereas late toxicity is similar in both treatment groups. The results support the use of ultra-hypofractionation for radiotherapy of prostate cancer.
Funding: The Nordic Cancer Union, the Swedish Cancer Society, and the Swedish Research Council.
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