• Effect of epoetin alfa on survival and cancer treatment-related anemia and fatigue in patients receiving radical radiotherapy with curative intent for head and neck cancer.

      Hoskin, Peter J; Robinson, Martin; Slevin, Nicholas J; Morgan, David; Harrington, Kevin; Gaffney, Christopher; Marie Curie Research Wing for Oncology, Mount Vernon Centre for Cancer Treatment, Mount Vernon Hospital, Northwood, Middlesex, UK. peterhoskin@nhs.net (2009-12-01)
      PURPOSE: To evaluate the effect of epoetin alfa on local disease-free survival (DFS), overall survival (OS), and cancer treatment-related anemia and fatigue in patients with head and neck cancer receiving radical radiotherapy with curative intent. PATIENTS AND METHODS: Patients (N = 301) with hemoglobin (Hb) less than 15 g/dL were randomly assigned in a ratio of 1:1 to receive radiotherapy plus epoetin alfa (10,000 U subcutaneously [SC] three times weekly if baseline Hb was < 12.5 g/dL; 4,000 U SC three times weekly if baseline Hb > or = 12.5 g/dL) or radiotherapy alone. Hb levels were monitored weekly. The primary end point was local DFS, defined as the time from random assignment to local disease recurrence or death. Secondary efficacy end points included OS, local tumor response, and local tumor control. Patients were followed at 1, 4, 8, and 12 weeks postradiotherapy and annually for 5 years. Cancer treatment-related anemia and fatigue were evaluated with the Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapy-Anemia and Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapy-Head and Neck. Adverse events were recorded up to 12 weeks postradiotherapy. RESULTS: Hb levels increased from baseline with epoetin alfa. The median duration of local DFS was not statistically different between groups (observation, 35.42 months; epoetin alfa, 31.47 months; hazard ratio, 1.04; 95% CI, 0.77 to 1.41). Groups did not significantly differ in DFS, OS, tumor outcomes, or cancer treatment-related anemia or fatigue. No new or unexpected adverse events were observed. CONCLUSION: Addition of epoetin alfa to radical radiotherapy did not affect survival, tumor outcomes, anemia, or fatigue positively or negatively in patients with head and neck cancer.
    • IMRT dose fractionation for head and neck cancer: variation in current approaches will make standardisation difficult.

      Ho, Kean F; Fowler, Jack F; Sykes, Andrew J; Yap, Beng K; Lee, Lip W; Slevin, Nicholas J; Academic Department of Radiation Oncology, University of Manchester, Christie Hospital, Wilmslow Road, Manchester, UK. (2009)
      INTRODUCTION: Altered fractionation has demonstrated clinical benefits compared to the conventional 2 Gy/day standard of 70 Gy. When using synchronous chemotherapy, there is uncertainty about optimum fractionation. IMRT with its potential for Simultaneous Integrated Boost (SIB) adds further to this uncertainty. This survey will examine international practice of IMRT fractionation and suggest possible reasons for diversity in approach. MATERIAL AND METHODS: Fourteen international cancer centres were surveyed for IMRT dose/fractionation practised in each centre. RESULTS: Twelve different types of dose fractionation were reported. Conventional 70-72 Gy (daily 2 Gy/fraction) was used in 3/14 centres with concurrent chemotherapy while 11/14 centres used altered fractionation. Two centres used >1 schedule. Reported schedules and number of centres included 6 fractions/week DAHANCA regime (3), modest hypofractionation (< or =2.2 Gy/fraction) (3), dose-escalated hypofractionation (> or =2.3 Gy/fraction) (4), hyperfractionation (1), continuous acceleration (1) and concomitant boost (1). Reasons for dose fractionation variability include (i) dose escalation; (ii) total irradiated volume; (iii) number of target volumes; (iv) synchronous systemic treatment; (v) shorter overall treatment time; (vi) resources availability; (vii) longer time on treatment couch; (viii) variable GTV margins; (ix) confidence in treatment setup; (x) late tissue toxicity and (xi) use of lower neck anterior fields. CONCLUSIONS: This variability in IMRT fractionation makes any meaningful comparison of treatment results difficult. Some standardization is needed particularly for design of multi-centre randomized clinical trials.
    • A novel imaging technique for fusion of high-quality immobilised MR images of the head and neck with CT scans for radiotherapy target delineation.

      Webster, Gareth J; Kilgallon, J E; Ho, Kean F; Rowbottom, Carl G; Slevin, Nicholas J; Mackay, Ranald I; North Western Medical Physics, Christie Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, Manchester, UK. gareth.webster@physics.cr.man.ac.uk (2009-06)
      Uncertainty and inconsistency are observed in target volume delineation in the head and neck for radiotherapy treatment planning based only on CT imaging. Alternative modalities such as MRI have previously been incorporated into the delineation process to provide additional anatomical information. This work aims to improve on previous studies by combining good image quality with precise patient immobilisation in order to maintain patient position between scans. MR images were acquired using quadrature coils placed over the head and neck while the patient was immobilised in the treatment position using a five-point thermoplastic shell. The MR image and CT images were automatically fused in the Pinnacle treatment planning system using Syntegra software. Image quality, distortion and accuracy of the image registration using patient anatomy were evaluated. Image quality was found to be superior to that acquired using the body coil, while distortion was < 1.0 mm to a radius of 8.7 cm from the scan centre. Image registration accuracy was found to be 2.2 mm (+/- 0.9 mm) and < 3.0 degrees (n = 6). A novel MRI technique that combines good image quality with patient immobilization has been developed and is now in clinical use. The scan duration of approximately 15 min has been well tolerated by all patients.