Advanced prostate cancer: the results of a randomized comparative trial of high dose irradiation boosting with conformal protons compared with conventional dose irradiation using photons alone

Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys. 1995 Apr 30;32(1):3-12. doi: 10.1016/0360-3016(95)00063-5.


Purpose: Following a thorough Phase I/II study, we evaluated by a Phase III trial high versus conventional dose external beam irradiation as mono-therapy for patients with Stage T3-T4 prostate cancer. Patient outcome following standard dose radiotherapy or following a 12.5% increase in total dose to 75.6 Cobalt Gray Equivalent (CGE) using a conformal perineal proton boost was compared for local tumor control, disease-free survival, and overall survival.

Methods and materials: Stage T3-T4, Nx, N0-2, M0 patients received 50.4 Gy by four-field photons and were randomized to receive either an additional 25.2 CGE by conformal protons (arm 1--the high dose arm, 103 patients, total dose 75.6 CGE) or an additional 16.8 Gy by photons (arm 2--the conventional dose arm, 99 patients, total dose 67.2 Gy). Actuarial overall survival (OS), disease-specific survival (DSS), total recurrence-free survival (TRFS), (clinically free, prostate specific antigen (PSA) less than 4ng/ml and a negative prostate rebiopsy, done in 38 patients without evidence of disease) and local control (digital rectal exam and rebiopsy negative) were evaluated.

Results: The protocol completion rate was 90% for arm 1 and 97% for arm 2. With a median follow-up of 61 months (range 3 to 139 months) 135 patients are alive and 67 have died, 20 from causes other than prostate cancer. We found no significant differences in OS, DSS, TRFS or local control between the two arms. Among those completing randomized treatment (93 in arm 1 and 96 in arm 2), the local control at 5 and 8 years for arm 1 is 92% and 77%, respectively and is 80% and 60%, respectively for arm 2 (p = .089) and there are no significant differences in OS, DSS, and TRFS. The local control for the 57 patients with poorly differentiated (Gleason 4 or 5 of 5) tumors at 5 and 8 years for arm 1 is 94% and 84% and is 64% and 19% on arm 2 (p = 0.0014). In patients whose digital rectal exam had normalized following treatment and underwent prostate rebiopsy there was a lower positive rebiopsy rate for arm 1 versus arm 2 patients (28 vs. 45%) and also for those with well and moderately differentiated tumors versus poorly differentiated tumors (32 and 50%). These differences were not statistically significant. Grade 1 and 2 rectal bleeding is higher (32 vs. 12%, p = 0.002) as may be urethral stricture (19 vs. 8%, p = 0.07) in the arm 1 versus arm 2.

Conclusions: An increase in prostate tumor dose by external beam of 12.5% to 75.6 CGE by a conformal proton boost compared to a conventional dose of 67.2 Gy by a photon boost significantly improved local control only in patients with poorly differentiated tumors. It has increased late radiation sequelae, and as yet, has not increased overall survival, disease-specific survival, or total recurrence-free survival in any subgroup. These results have led us to test by a subsequent Phase III trial the potential beneficial effect on local control and disease-specific survival of a 12.5% increase in total dose relative to conventional dose in patients with T1, T2a, and T2b tumors.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Clinical Trial, Phase III
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Clinical Protocols
  • Data Interpretation, Statistical
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Hemorrhage / etiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local / mortality
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local / prevention & control*
  • Photons / therapeutic use*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / mortality
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / pathology
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / radiotherapy*
  • Proton Therapy*
  • Radiotherapy / adverse effects
  • Radiotherapy Dosage
  • Rectum
  • Urethral Stricture / etiology
  • Urethral Stricture / surgery
  • Urinary Bladder Diseases / etiology


  • Protons