Purpose: Tumor extracellular pH measurements in 26 human tumors were evaluated for the purpose of prognostic indication of response to thermoradiotherapy.
Methods and materials: Twenty-six patients (10 male, 16 female; mean age 62 years, range 18-89) were treated with external microwave hyperthermia (915 MHz) combined with radiation therapy. Tumor histologies included: 46% adenocarcinoma, 38% squamous cell carcinoma, 12% soft tissue sarcoma, and 4% malignant melanoma. The mean tumor depth was 1.6 +/- 0.2 cm (range 0.4-3 cm) and the mean tumor volume was 73 +/- 11 cm3 (range 1-192 cm3). The mean radiation dose administered concurrently with hyperthermia was 39 +/- 1 Gy (range 24-60 Gy, median of 40 Gy), in 15 fractions (range 8-25), over 32 elapsed days (range 15-43). The mean number of hyperthermia sessions administered was 5.4 +/- 0.5 (range 2-10). A battery operated pH meter and combination 21 ga recessed glass, beveled needle microelectrodes were used for tumor pH measurements. Calibration in pH buffers was performed before and after each pH measurement. The needle microelectrodes were 2.5 cm in length.
Results: A complete response (CR) was obtained in 20 of 26 patients (77%) and a partial response in six (23%). The mean extracellular tumor pH was 6.88 +/- 0.09 in CR patients while it was 7.24 +/- 0.09 in noncompletely responding (NCR) patients (p = 0.08). Logistic regression analysis indicated that the probability of obtaining a complete response was influenced by the tumor volume (p = 0.02), tumor depth (p = 0.05), and extracellular tumor pH (p = 0.08). Lesions in the pH range of 6.00-6.40 and lesions in the pH range of 6.41-6.80 exhibited a CR rate of 100%, while those lesions in the pH range of 6.81-7.20 exhibited a CR of 90% and those in the pH range of 7.21-7.52 exhibited a CR of 50% (p = 0.002). In lesions with depth < or = 1.5 cm, the CR rate was 100% when the tumor pH was < 7.15 and 75% when the tumor pH was > or = 7.15. In lesions with depth between 1.5 and 3 cm, the CR rate was 66% when the tumor pH was < 7.15 and 43% when the tumor pH was > or = 7.15 (p = 0.02). In small tumors, that is, < or = 20 cm3, tumor pH increased with volume, whereas in larger tumors, that is, > 20 cm3, tumor pH decreased as a function of tumor volume.
Conclusion: Tumor extracellular pH may be useful as a prognostic indicator of tumor response to thermoradiotherapy.