Two-year results from a Swedish study on conventional versus accelerated radiotherapy in head and neck squamous cell carcinoma - The ARTSCAN study
Background and purpose: Studies on accelerated fractionation (AF) in head and neck cancer have shown increased local control and survival compared with conventional fractionation (CF), while others have been non-conclusive. In 1998 a national Swedish group decided to perform a randomised controlled clinical study of AF. Materials and methods: Patients with verified squamous cell carcinoma of the oral cavity, oropharynx, larynx (except glottic T1-T2, N0) and hypopharynx were included. Patients with prior chemotherapy or surgery were excluded. Patients were randomised to either CF (2Gy/day, 5days/week for 7 weeks, total dose 68Gy) or to AF (1.1Gy+2.0Gy/day, 5days/week for 4.5weeks, total dose 68Gy). An extensive quality assurance protocol was followed throughout the study. The primary end point was loco-regional tumour control (LRC) at two years after treatment. Results: The study was closed in 2006 when 750 patients had been randomised. Eighty-three percent of the patients had stages III-IV disease. Forty eight percent had oropharyngeal, 21% laryngeal, 17% hypopharyngeal and 14% oral cancers. There were no significant differences regarding overall survival (OS) or LRC between the two regimens. The OS at two years was 68% for AF and 67% for CF. The corresponding figures for LRC were 71% and 67%, respectively. There was a trend towards improved LRC for oral cancers treated (p=0.07) and for large tumours (T3-T4) (p=0.07) treated with AF. The AF group had significantly worse acute reactions, while there was no significant increase in late effects. Conclusion: Overall the AF regimen did not prove to be more efficacious than CF. However, the trend towards improved results in AF for oral cancers needs to be further investigated.