Influence of bromodeoxyuridine radiosensitization on malignant glioma patient survival: a retrospective comparison of survival data from the Northern California Oncology Group (NCOG) and Radiation Therapy Oncology Group trials (RTOG) for glioblastoma multiforme and anaplastic astrocytoma

Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys. 1998 Feb 1;40(3):653-9. doi: 10.1016/s0360-3016(97)00770-0.


Purpose: To examine the effect of treatment using Bromodeoxyuridine (BrdU) during radiation therapy on malignant glioma patient survival by comparing historical survival data from several large clinical trials.

Methods: A retrospective analysis of patient data from Radiation Therapy Oncology Group (RTOG) trials 74-01, 79-18, and 83-02 and the Northern California Oncology Group (NCOG) study 6G-82-1 was conducted. Patient data was supplied by both groups, and analyzed by the RTOG. Pretreatment characteristics including age, extent of surgery, Karnofsky Performance Status (KPS), and histopathology were collected; the only treatment variable evaluated was the use of BrdU during radiation therapy. Radiation dose, dose-fractionation schedule, use of chemotherapy, and/or type of chemotherapy was not controlled for in the analyses. Univariate and multivariate analyses were conducted to examine the potential treatment effect of BrdU on patient survival.

Results: Data from 334 patients treated with BrdU on NCOG 6G-82-1 and 1743 patients treated without BrdU on 3 RTOG studies was received. Patients were excluded from the review if confirmation of eligibility could not be obtained, if the patient was ineligible for the study they entered, if central pathology review was not done, or if radiotherapy data was not available. Patients treated according to the RTOG studies had to start radiotherapy within 4 weeks of surgery; no such restriction existed for the NCOG studies. To ensure comparability between the studies, patients from the NCOG studies who began treatment longer than 40 days from surgery were also excluded. The final data set included 296 cases from the NCOG studies (89%) and 1478 cases from the RTOG studies (85%). For patients with glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) the median survival was 9.8 months in the RTOG studies and 13.0 months in the NCOG trial (p < 0.0001). For patients with AA the median survival was 35.1 months for the RTOG studies and 42.8 months in the NCOG trial (p = 0.126). Univariate results showed consistent results favoring BrdU among patients over 30 years of age, across the extent of surgery, and for GBM patients. A proportional hazards regression model that included treatment, histopathology, KPS, age, and extent of surgery demonstrated that treatment with BrdU was included in the best model only for the GBM group of patients (risk ratio 0.83).

Conclusions: Because of the heterogeneity of the treatment groups, including potentially important differences in pathology reviewers assessment of nonglioblastoma cases, differences in radiation dose and schedules, and chemotherapy during or after radiation, these analyses cannot provide the definitive answer as to whether BrdU given during radiation therapy improves survival in patients with malignant glioma. There does appear to be a favorable treatment effect seen in patients with GBM, with a lesser effect in patients with AA.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Distribution
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Antimetabolites, Antineoplastic / therapeutic use*
  • Astrocytoma / drug therapy
  • Astrocytoma / mortality
  • Astrocytoma / radiotherapy
  • Brain Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Brain Neoplasms / mortality*
  • Brain Neoplasms / radiotherapy*
  • Bromodeoxyuridine / therapeutic use*
  • Female
  • Glioblastoma / drug therapy
  • Glioblastoma / mortality
  • Glioblastoma / radiotherapy
  • Glioma / drug therapy
  • Glioma / mortality*
  • Glioma / radiotherapy*
  • Humans
  • Karnofsky Performance Status
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Proportional Hazards Models
  • Radiation-Sensitizing Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Regression Analysis
  • Retrospective Studies


  • Antimetabolites, Antineoplastic
  • Radiation-Sensitizing Agents
  • Bromodeoxyuridine