Hyperfractionated Accelerated Radiotherapy (HART) for Anaplastic Thyroid Carcinoma: Toxicity and Survival Analysis

Head and Neck/Thyroid Unit, The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust, Sutton, Surrey, United Kingdom.
International journal of radiation oncology, biology, physics (Impact Factor: 4.26). 05/2009; 74(2):518-21. DOI: 10.1016/j.ijrobp.2008.08.016
Source: PubMed


Anaplastic thyroid carcinoma (ATC) is one of the most aggressive cancers, and the current protocol of hyperfractionated accelerated radiotherapy was initiated to improve survival while limiting toxicities.
All patients with ATC from 1991 to 2002 were accrued and received megavoltage radiotherapy from the mastoid processes to the carina up to 60 Gy in twice-daily fractions of 1.8 and 2 Gy, 6 hours apart.
Thirty-one patients were accrued with a median age of 69 years, and 55% were women. Debulking was performed in 26%, and total thyroidectomy, in 6%, whereas 68% received radical radiotherapy alone. Local control data were available for 27 patients: 22% had a complete response, 26% had a partial response, 15% showed progressive disease, and 37% showed static disease. Median overall survival for all 31 patients was 70 days (95% confidence interval, 40-99). There was no significant difference in median survival between patients younger (70 days) and older than 70 years (42 days), between men (70 days) and women (49 days), and between patients receiving postoperative radiotherapy (77 days) and radical radiotherapy alone (35 days). Grade III or higher skin erythema was seen in 56% patients; desquamation in 21%; dysphagia in 74%; and esophagitis in 79%.
The current protocol failed to offer a significant survival benefit, was associated with severe toxicities, and thus was discontinued. There is a suggestion that younger patients with operable disease have longer survival, but this would require a larger study to confirm it.

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