Purpose: An improvement in radiation dose schedule is necessary to increase local tumor control and survival in limited-stage small-cell lung cancer. The goal of this study was to determine the maximum-tolerated dose (MTD) of radiation (RT) in both standard daily and hyperfractionated-accelerated (HA) twice-daily RT schedules in concurrent chemoradiation.
Methods: The study design consisted of a sequential dose escalation in both daily and HA twice-daily RT regimens. RT dose to the initial volume was kept at 40 to 40.5 Gy, while it was gradually increased to the boost volume by adding a 7% to 11 % increment of total dose to subsequent cohorts. The MTD was defined as the radiation dose level at one cohort below that which resulted in more than 33% of patients experiencing grade > or = 4 acute esophagitis and/or grade > or = 3 pulmonary toxicity. The study plan included nine cohorts, five on HA twice-daily and four on daily regimens for the dose escalation. Chemotherapy consisted of three cycles of cisplatin 33 mg/m2/d on days 1 to 3 over 30 minutes, cyclophosphamide 500 mg/m2 on day 1 intravenously (IV) over 1 hour, and etoposide 80 mg/m2/d on days 1 to 3 over 1 hour every 3 weeks (PCE) and two cycles of PE. RT was started at the initiation of the fourth cycle of chemotherapy.
Results: Fifty patients were enrolled onto the study. The median age was 60 years (range, 38-79), sex ratio 2.3:1 for male to female, weight loss less than 5% in 73%, and performance score 0 to 1 in 94% and 2 in 6% of patients. In HA twice-daily RT, grade > or = 4 acute esophagitis was noted in two of five (40%), two of seven (29%), four of six (67%), and five of six patients (86%) at 50 (1.25 Gy twice daily), 45, 50, and 55.5 Gy in 1.5 Gy twice daily, 5 d/wk, respectively. Grade > or = 3 pulmonary toxicity was not seen in any of these 24 patients. Therefore, the MTD for HA twice-daily RT was judged to be 45 Gy in 30 fractions over 3 weeks. In daily RT, grade > or = 4 acute esophagitis was noted in zero of four, zero of four, one of five (20%), and two of six patients (33%) at 56, 60, 66, and 70 Gy on a schedule of 2 Gy per fraction per day, five fractions per week. Grade > or = 3 pneumonitis was not observed in any of the 19 patients. Thus, the MTD for daily RT was judged to be at least 70 Gy in 35 fractions over 7 weeks. Grade 4 granulocytopenia and thrombocytopenia were observed in 53% and 6% of patients, respectively, during the first three cycles of PCE. During chemotherapy cycles 4 to 5, grade 4 granulocytopenia and thrombocytopenia were noted in 43% and 29% of patients at 45 Gy in 30 fractions over 3 weeks (MTD) by HA twice-daily RT and 50% and 17% at 70 Gy in 35 fractions over 7 weeks (MTD) by daily RT, respectively. The overall tumor response consisted of complete remission (CR) in 51% (24 of 47), partial remission (PR) in 38% (1 8 of 47), and stable disease in 2% (one of 47). The median survival time of all patients was 24.4 months and 2- and 3-year survival rates were 53% and 28%, respectively. With regard to the different radiation schedules, 2- and 3-year survival rates were 52% and 25% for the HA twice-daily and 54% and 35% for the daily RT cohorts.
Conclusion: The MTD of HA twice-daily RT was determined to be 45 Gy in 30 fractions over 3 weeks, while it was judged to be at least 70 Gy in 35 fractions over 7 weeks for daily RT. A phase III randomized trial to compare standard daily RT with HA twice-daily RT at their MTD for local tumor control and survival would be a sensible research in searching for a more effective RT dose-schedule than those that are being used currently.