Acute toxicity during external-beam radiotherapy for localized prostate cancer: comparison of different techniques

Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys. 1993 Jan 15;25(2):359-71. doi: 10.1016/0360-3016(93)90361-x.


Purpose: The chronic and acute toxicities associated with conventional radiotherapy of localized prostate cancer are well documented. However, the degree and incidence of toxicities with conformal techniques are not known. Studying side effects associated with modern radiotherapeutic techniques is more important now since there has been a general trend to use computerized tomography-based techniques in recent years; beam's eye view-based conformal techniques are also becoming more commonplace. It is possible that the local disease control can be improved with the delivery of higher doses than currently used. Conformation of the treatment volume to the target volume may facilitate such dose-escalation. However, prior to such dose-escalation, it is important to know the toxicities associated with such techniques with conventional doses.

Methods and materials: We have compared week-by-week acute toxicities associated with conventional (Group A, 16 patients), computerized tomography-based, manual (Group B, 57 patients) and beam's eye view-based (Group C, 43 patients) techniques during 7 weeks of radiotherapy. Group B and C patients were treated contemporaneously (1988-1990).

Results: Acute side effects gradually increased from week 1 through weeks 4-5 and generally declined or plateaued after that. The incidence of acute toxicities was significantly less with the beam's eye view/based technique than with the other two methods. For instance, the percentages of Grade 2 acute genitourinary toxicities for Groups A, B, and C were as follows: Week 1-0, 0, 0; Week 2-6, 0, 0; Week 3-6, 9, 2; Week 4-12, 14, 9; Week 5-35, 14, 9; Week 6-31, 16, 7; Week 7-33, 8, 8, respectively. The p values associated with differences in acute genitourinary toxicities for Weeks 1-7 using chi-square test were 0.072, 0.627, 0.389, 0.538, 0.123, 0.06, and 0.012; the p values for acute gastrointestinal toxicities were 0.512, 0.09, 0.031, 0.031, 0.003, < 0.0001, and 0.004, respectively. Pairwise comparison (Wilcoxon rank-sum test) showed statistically significant lower acute toxicity in Group C than Group B (e.g., p values, Weeks 1-7 for gastrointestinal toxicity: 0.633, 0.056, 0.010, 0.014, < 0.0001, < 0.0001, and < 0.0001, respectively) in the latter part of the treatment course. No correlation was found between the extent of toxicity and the patient age or the overall treatment time. Also, no correlation was found between the degree of toxicity and the radiation dose and fraction size, within the narrow ranges used (65-70 Gy and 180-200 cGy, respectively). A trend suggesting increased severity of toxicity with increase in the volume of treatment was seen.

Conclusion: The findings in this retrospective study need to be confirmed by other prospective studies.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Adenocarcinoma / radiotherapy*
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / radiotherapy*
  • Radiotherapy, High-Energy / adverse effects*
  • Radiotherapy, High-Energy / methods