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1.  Spinal bone metastases in gynecologic malignancies: a retrospective analysis of stability, prognostic factors and survival 
The aim of this retrospective study was to evaluate the stability of spinal metastases in gynecologic cancer patients (pts) on the basis of a validated scoring system after radiotherapy (RT), to define prognostic factors for stability and to calculate survival.
Fourty-four women with gynecologic malignancies and spinal bone metastases were treated at our department between January 2000 and January 2012. Out of those 34 were assessed regarding stability using the Taneichi score before, 3 and 6 months after RT. Additionally prognostic factors for stability, overall survival, and bone survival (time between first day of RT of bone metastases and death from any cause) were calculated.
Before RT 47% of pts were unstable and 6 months after RT 85% of pts were stable. Karnofsky performance status (KPS) >70% (p = 0.037) and no chemotherapy (ChT) (p = 0.046) prior to RT were significantly predictive for response. 5-year overall survival was 69% and 1-year bone survival was 73%.
RT is capable of improving stability of osteolytic spinal metastases from gynecologic cancer by facilitating re-ossification in survivors. KPS may be a predictor for response. Pts who received ChT prior to RT may require additional bone supportive treatment to overcome bone remodeling imbalance. Survival in women with bone metastases from gynecologic cancer remains poor.
PMCID: PMC4163163  PMID: 25182126
Bone metastases; Spine; Gynecologic malignancies; Stability; Radiotherapy
2.  Intensity modulated radiotherapy (IMRT) with concurrent chemotherapy as definitive treatment of locally advanced esophageal cancer 
To report our experience with increased dose intensity-modulated radiation and concurrent systemic chemotherapy as definitive treatment of locally advanced esophageal cancer.
Patients and methods
We analyzed 27 consecutive patients with histologically proven esophageal cancer, who were treated with increased-dose IMRT as part of their definitive therapy. The majority of patients had T3/4 and/or N1 disease (93%). Squamous cell carcinoma was the dominating histology (81%). IMRT was delivered in step-and-shoot technique in all patients using an integrated boost concept. The boost volume was covered with total doses of 56-60 Gy (single dose 2-2.14 Gy), while regional nodal regions received 50.4 Gy (single dose 1.8 Gy) in 28 fractions. Concurrent systemic therapy was scheduled in all patients and administered in 26 (96%). 17 patients received additional adjuvant systemic therapy. Loco-regional control, progression-free and overall survival as well as acute and late toxicities were retrospectively analyzed. In addition, quality of life was prospectively assessed according to the EORTC QLQs (QLQ-OG25, QLQ-H&N35 and QLQ-C30).
Radiotherapy was completed as planned in all but one patient (96%), and 21 patients received more than 80% of the planned concurrent systemic therapy. We observed ten locoregional failures, transferring into actuarial 1-, 2- and 3-year-locoregional control rates of 77%, 65% and 48%. Seven patients developed distant metastases, mainly to the lung (71%). The actuarial 1-, 2- and 3-year-disease free survival rates were 58%, 48% and 36%, and overall survival rates were 82%, 61% and 56%. The concept was well tolerated, both in the clinical objective examination and also according to the subjective answers to the QLQ questionnaire. 14 patients (52%) suffered from at least one acute CTC grade 3/4 toxicity, mostly hematological side effects or dysphagia. Severe late toxicities were reported in 6 patients (22%), mostly esophageal strictures and ulcerations. Severe side effects to skin, lung and heart were rare.
IMRT with concurrent systemic therapy in the definitive treatment of esophageal cancer using an integrated boost concept with doses up to 60 Gy is feasible and yields good results with acceptable acute and late overall toxicity and low side effects to skin, lung and heart.
PMCID: PMC4156653  PMID: 25175056
Esophageal cancer; IMRT; Concurrent chemoradiation
3.  Clinical Phase I/II trial to Investigate Preoperative Dose-Escalated Intensity-Modulated Radiation Therapy (IMRT) and Intraoperative Radiation Therapy (IORT) in patients with retroperitoneal soft tissue sarcoma: interim analysis 
BMC Cancer  2014;14(1):617.
To report an unplanned interim analysis of a prospective, one-armed, single center phase I/II trial (NCT01566123).
Between 2007 and 2013, 27 patients (pts) with primary/recurrent retroperitoneal sarcomas (size > 5 cm, M0, at least marginally resectable) were enrolled. The protocol attempted neoadjuvant IMRT using an integrated boost with doses of 45–50 Gy to PTV and 50–56 Gy to GTV in 25 fractions, followed by surgery and IOERT (10–12 Gy). Primary endpoint was 5-year-LC, secondary endpoints included PFS, OS, resectability, and acute/late toxicity. The majority of patients showed high grade lesions (FNCLCC G1:18%, G2:52%, G3:30%), predominantly liposarcomas (70%). Median tumor size was 15 cm (6–31).
Median follow-up was 33 months (5–75). Neoadjuvant IMRT was performed as planned (median dose 50 Gy, 26–55) in all except 2 pts (93%). Gross total resection was feasible in all except one patient. Final margin status was R0 in 6 (22%) and R1 in 20 pts (74%). Contiguous-organ resection was needed in all grossly resected patients. IOERT was performed in 23 pts (85%) with a median dose of 12 Gy (10–20 Gy).
We observed 7 local recurrences, transferring into estimated 3- and 5-year-LC rates of 72%. Two were located outside the EBRT area and two were observed after more than 5 years. Locally recurrent situation had a significantly negative impact on local control. Distant failure was found in 8 pts, resulting in 3- and 5-year-DC rates of 63%. Patients with leiomyosarcoma had a significantly increased risk of distant failure. Estimated 3- and 5-year-rates were 40% for PFS and 74% for OS. Severe acute toxicity (grade 3) was present in 4 pts (15%). Severe postoperative complications were found in 9 pts (33%), of whom 2 finally died after multiple re-interventions. Severe late toxicity (grade 3) was scored in 6% of surviving patients after 1 year and none after 2 years.
Combination of neoadjuvant IMRT, surgery and IOERT is feasible with acceptable toxicity and yields good results in terms of LC and OS in patients with high-risk retroperitoneal sarcomas. Long term follow-up seems mandatory given the observation of late recurrences. Accrual of patients will be continued with extended follow-up.
Trial registration
PMCID: PMC4156610  PMID: 25163595
4.  Trimodal therapy for stage III-N2 non-small-cell lung carcinoma: a single center retrospective analysis 
BMC Cancer  2014;14(1):572.
Treatment of locally advanced non-small-cell lung cancer is based on a combined approach. To study the impact of trimodal therapy for stage III-N2 NSCLC a single centre retrospective evaluation focusing on survival and therapy-related toxicity was performed.
71 patients diagnosed between March 2001 and August 2008 with pathologically confirmed stage III-N2 non-small-cell lung cancer at the University Clinic of Heidelberg were retrospectively analyzed. All patients were treated within trimodal therapy strategies including surgery, induction or adjuvant chemotherapy and postoperative radiotherapy. Overall survival (OS) and disease free survival (DFS) rates were calculated using the Kaplan-Meier method. The log-rank test and Fishers Exact test were applied for univariate analysis and Cox proportional regression model for multivariate analysis.
Median survival was 32 months. 1-, 3- and 5-year overall survival (OS) rates were 84.5%, 49.6% and 35.5% respectively. Disease free survival rates at 1, 3 and 5 years were 70.4%, 41.8% and 27.4% respectively. 9 patients (12.6%) were diagnosed with a local recurrence. Multivariate analysis did not reveal any independent prognostic factors for OS, but indicated a trend for pT stage and type of surgery. In regard to toxicity 8.4% of the patients developed a clinically relevant ≥ grade 2 pneumonitis. Evaluation of the forced expiratory volume in 1 second per unit of vital capacity (FEV1/VC) before and 1-3 years post radiotherapy revealed a median decrease of 2.1%.
Our descriptive data indicate that trimodal therapy represents an effective and safe treatment approach for patients with stage III-N2 non-small-cell lung cancer. Further prospective clinical trials are necessary in order to clearly define the impact of multimodal strategies and optimize NSCLC treatment.
PMCID: PMC4137085  PMID: 25104240
NSCLC; Stage III-N2; Trimodal treatment; Radiotherapy
5.  Survival of women with clear cell and papillary serous endometrial cancer after adjuvant radiotherapy 
Type II (papillary serous and clear cell) endometrial carcinoma (EC) is a rare subgroup and is considered to have an unfavorable prognosis. The purpose of this retrospective analysis was to elucidate the meaning of adjuvant radiotherapy (RT) for clinical outcome and to define prognostic factors in these patients (pts).
From 2004-2012 forty-two pts with type II EC underwent surgery followed by adjuvant RT at our department. Median age was 72 years. The majority were early stage carcinomas (FIGO I n = 27 [64.3%], FIGO II n = 4 [9.5%], FIGO III n = 11 [26.2%]. Seven pts (16.7%) received adjuvant chemotherapy (ChT). Pts were treated with external beam radiotherapy (EBRT) and brachytherapy (IVB) boost.
Five-year local recurrence free survival (LRFS), distant metastases free survival (DMFS) and overall survival (OS) were 85.4%, 78%, and 64.5% respectively. LRFS was better with lower pT stage, without lymphangiosis (L0), without haemangiosis (V0) and negative resection margins (R0). DMFS was prolonged in lymph node negatives (N0), L0, V0 and R0. OS was improved in younger pts, N0, L0, V0 and after lymphadenectomy (LNE). Multivariate analysis revealed haemangiosis (V1) as the only independent prognostic factor for OS (p = .014) and DMFS (p = .008). For LRFS pT stage remained as an independent prognostic factor (p = .028).
Adjuvant RT with EBRT/IVB ensures adequate local control in type II EC, but control rates remain lower than in type I EC. A benefit of additional adjuvant ChT could not be demonstrated and a general omission of EBRT cannot be recommended at this point. Lymphovascular infiltration and pT stage might be the best predictive factors for a benefit from combined local and systemic treatment.
PMCID: PMC4078392  PMID: 24941899
Radiotherapy; Endometrial cancer; Clear cell; Papillary serous
6.  Excellent local control with IOERT and postoperative EBRT in high grade extremity sarcoma: results from a subgroup analysis of a prospective trial 
BMC Cancer  2014;14:350.
To report the results of a subgroup analysis of a prospective phase II trial focussing on radiation therapy and outcome in patients with extremity soft tissue sarcomas (STS).
Between 2005 and 2010, 50 patients (pts) with high risk STS (size ≥ 5 cm, deep/extracompartimental location, grade II-III (FNCLCC)) were enrolled. The protocol comprised 4 cycles of neoadjuvant chemotherapy with EIA (etoposide, ifosfamide and doxorubicin), definitive surgery with IOERT, postoperative EBRT and 4 adjuvant cycles of EIA. 34 pts, who suffered from extremity tumors and received radiation therapy after limb-sparing surgery, formed the basis of this subgroup analysis.
Median follow-up from inclusion was 48 months in survivors. Margin status was R0 in 30 pts (88%) and R1 in 4 pts (12%). IOERT was performed as planned in 31 pts (91%) with a median dose of 15 Gy, a median electron energy of 6 MeV and a median cone size of 9 cm. All patients received postoperative EBRT with a median dose of 46 Gy after IOERT or 60 Gy without IOERT. Median time from surgery to EBRT and median EBRT duration was 36 days, respectively. One patient developed a local recurrence while 11 patients showed nodal or distant failures. The estimated 5-year rates of local control, distant control and overall survival were 97%, 66% and 79%, respectively. Postoperative wound complications were found in 7 pts (20%), resulting in delayed EBRT (>60 day interval) in 3 pts. Acute radiation toxicity mainly consisted of radiation dermatitis (grade II: 24%, no grade III reactions). 4 pts developed grade I/II radiation recall dermatitis during adjuvant chemotherapy, which resolved during the following cycles. Severe late toxicity was observed in 6 pts (18%). Long-term limb preservation was achieved in 32 pts (94%) with good functional outcome in 81%.
Multimodal therapy including IOERT and postoperative EBRT resulted in excellent local control and good overall survival in patients with high risk STS of the extremities with acceptable acute and late radiation side effects. Limb preservation with good functional outcome was achieved in the majority of patients.
Trial registration NCT01382030, EudraCT 2004-002501-72, 17.06.2011
PMCID: PMC4032585  PMID: 24885755
Soft tissue sarcoma; Extremity; Neoadjuvant chemotherapy; Intraoperative radiation therapy; Postoperative radiation therapy; Prospective trial
7.  Efficacy and toxicity of chemoradiation in patients with anal cancer - a retrospective analysis 
Concurrent chemotherapy and radiation therapy is the preferred standard of care for patients with anal cancer. Several studies have suggested a benefit of intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) compared with 3D-conformal radiation (3D-CRT) regarding acute toxicity. This study evaluates outcome and toxicity of patients undergoing IMRT/Tomotherapy or 3D-CRT at our institution.
A cohort of 105 anal cancer patients was treated with chemoradiation or radiation alone (16.2%) between January 2000 and December 2011. 37 patients received 3D-CRT while 68 patients were treated with IMRT. Follow-up exams were performed every 3 to 6 months for a minimum of 3 years and then annually.
Median follow-up was 41.4 months (2.8 – 158.4). Overall survival (OS), Progression-free survival (PFS) and local control (LC) at 3 years was 70.3%, 66.5%, 78.3% in the 3D-CRT group and 82.9%, 66.5%, 75.3% in the IMRT group without statistically significant difference. 3-year Colostomy-free survival (CFS) was 85.7% in the IMRT/Tomotherapy group and 91.8% in the 3D-CRT group (p = 0.48). No grade 4 toxicity was found in both groups. Severe (G2/3) acute skin toxicity (94.6% vs. 63.2%; p < 0.001) and acute gastrointestinal toxicity rate (67.6% vs. 47.1%; p = 0.03) was significantly higher with 3D-CRT compared to IMRT/Tomotherapy.
The use of IMRT can reduce acute severe side effects of the skin and gastrointestinal tract but did not demonstrate improved results regarding OS, PFS, LC and CFS.
PMCID: PMC4030022  PMID: 24886574
Anal [canal] cancer; Radiochemotherapy; Toxicity; IMRT; 3D-CRT; Radiation
8.  A comparison of long-term survivors and short-term survivors with glioblastoma, subventricular zone involvement: a predictive factor for survival? 
Long-term survival is rare in patients with glioblastoma (GBM). We set out to determine prognostic factors for patients with favorable and poor prognosis in regard of tumor localization to the subventricular zone (SZV).
We reviewed the clinical records, pre-operative and post-operative MRI imaging of 50 LTS long-term survivors (LTS) (> 3 years) and 50 short-term survivors (STS) (< 1 year) with glioblastoma. These groups were matched for clinical characteristics being consistently associated with prolonged or shortened survival. All patients had undergone initial surgery or biopsy to confirm GBM diagnosis followed by radio- or chemoradiotherapy.
LTS had a median progression-free survival PFS of 25, 4 months (2, 3–97, 8 months) and overall-survival (OS) of 55, 9 months (38, 2-98, 6 months) compared to STS who had a significantly lower PFS of 4, 2 months (1, 4–10, 2 months) and OS of 6, 6 months (2, 2–11, 6 months) (each p < 0,001).
Survival analysis showed that age under 60 years (p < 0,001), total resection status (p < 0,001) and tumor localization without SVZ contact (p = 0,05) were significant factors for prolonged survival.
Our findings underline that survival in GBM patients is heterogeneous and influenced by multiple factors. This study confirms that tumor location with regard to the SVZ is significantly associated with survival.
PMCID: PMC4011838  PMID: 24758192
Glioblastoma; Subventricular zone; Long-term survival; Prognostic factors
9.  Randomized controlled trial to evaluate the effects of ethyl-2-cyanoacrylate on pain intensity and quality of life in head and neck cancer patients suffering from cetuximab-induced rhagades during radioimmunotherapy: the support trial 
BMC Cancer  2014;14:270.
Cetuximab is a chimeric monoclonal antibody against the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR). Skin reactions are the most common side effects of cetuximab. Rhagades of the tips of the fingers and toes, the heels and especially the interphalangeal joints are one of the most frightening and painful dermatological side effects that may develop from EGFR-inhibitor therapy. Rhagades are characterized by pain, severe tenderness and poor healing response. They are challenging to treat. Thus, rhagades often poses the most significant threat to the quality of life (QoL) for these patients. Ethyl-2-cyanoacrylate (ECA), an ethyl ester of the 2-cyano-2-propenoic acid, is often used as adhesive in a variety of different work settings in industry, i.e. as a component in nail-care products such as nail glue. In addition, ECA is used for various medical indications, such as for liquid bandages and for suture-less surgery. Wound healing can be accelerated with ECA. The purpose of the SUPPORT trial is to investigate the efficacy of ECA for the treatment of cetuximab-induced rhagades and to assess the clinical usefulness of the SUPO score, a new classification system for rhagades induced by EGFR-inhibitor therapy.
The SUPPORT trial is an open-label, prospective, randomized, national multicenter intervention study to evaluate the effectiveness of ECA versus the standard treatment of each institution on the pain intensity and QoL in patients with locally advanced head and neck cancer suffering from painful cetuximab-induced rhagades during radioimmunotherapy. Primary endpoint is the assessment of the pain intensity 24 hours after application of ECA or the standard treatment quantified by the visual analogue scale (VAS). Secondary endpoints are the evaluation of QoL assessed by the EORTC-QoL-C30 questionnaire and the Dermatological Life Quality Index (DLQI).
During treatment with EGFR inhibitors it is necessary to recognize and manage side effects promptly to assure better patient QoL. The SUPPORT trial is the first randomized clinical trial evaluating a new treatment option for painful cetuximab-induced rhagades. Furthermore, the new SUPO score will be prospectively assessed in terms of clinical usefulness for classification of EGFR inhibitor-induced rhagades.
Trial registration
Current Controlled Trials NCT01693159.
PMCID: PMC4051406  PMID: 24742019
10.  Ion Prostate Irradiation (IPI) – a pilot study to establish the safety and feasibility of primary hypofractionated irradiation of the prostate with protons and carbon ions in a raster scan technique 
BMC Cancer  2014;14:202.
Due to physical characteristics, ions like protons or carbon ions can administer the dose to the target volume more efficiently than photons since the dose can be lowered at the surrounding normal tissue. Radiation biological considerations are based on the assumption that the α/β value for prostate cancer cells is 1.5 Gy, so that a biologically more effective dose could be administered due to hypofractionation without increasing risks of late effects of bladder (α/β = 4.0) and rectum (α/β = 3.9).
The IPI study is a prospective randomized phase II study exploring the safety and feasibility of primary hypofractionated irradiation of the prostate with protons and carbon ions in a raster scan technique. The study is designed to enroll 92 patients with localized prostate cancer. Primary aim is the assessment of the safety and feasibility of the study treatment on the basis of incidence grade III and IV NCI-CTC-AE (v. 4.02) toxicity and/or the dropout of the patient from the planned therapy due to any reason. Secondary endpoints are PSA-progression free survival (PSA-PFS), overall survival (OS) and quality-of-life (QoL).
This pilot study aims at the evaluation of the safety and feasibility of hypofractionated irradiation of the prostate with protons and carbon ions in prostate cancer patients in an active beam technique. Additionally, the safety results will be compared with Japanese results recently published for carbon ion irradiation. Due to the missing data of protons in this hypofractionated scheme, an in depth evaluation of the toxicity will be created to gain basic data for a following comparison study with carbon ion irradiation.
Trial registration
Clinical Trial Identifier: NCT01641185 (
PMCID: PMC3995364  PMID: 24641841
11.  Helical intensity-modulated Radiotherapy of the Pelvic Lymph Nodes with Integrated Boost to the Prostate Bed - Initial Results of the PLATIN 3 Trial 
BMC Cancer  2014;14:20.
Adjuvant and salvage radiotherapy of the prostate bed are established treatment options for prostate cancer. While the benefit of an additional radiotherapy of the pelvic lymph nodes is still under debate, the PLATIN 3 prospective phase II clinical trial was initiated to substantiate toxicity data on postoperative IMRT of the pelvic lymph nodes and the prostate bed.
From 2009 to 2011, 40 patients with high-risk prostate cancer after prostatectomy with pT3 R0/1 M0 or pT2 R1 M0 or a PSA recurrence and either > 20% risk of lymph node involvement and inadequate lymphadenectomy or pN + were enrolled. Patients received two months of antihormonal treatment (AT) before radiotherapy. AT continuation was mandatory during radiotherapy and was recommended for another two years. IMRT of the pelvic lymph nodes (51.0 Gy) with a simultaneous integrated boost to the prostate bed (68.0 Gy) was performed in 34 fractions. PSA level, prostate-related symptoms and quality of life were assessed at regular intervals for 24 months.
Of the 40 patients enrolled, 39 finished treatment as planned. Overall acute toxicity rates were low and no acute grade 3/4 toxicity occurred. Only 22.5% of patients experienced acute grade 2 gastrointestinal (GI) and genitourinary (GU) toxicity. During follow-up, 10.0% late grade 2 GI and 5.0% late grade 2 GU toxicity occurred, and one patient developed late grade 3 proctitis and enteritis. After a median observation time of 24 months the PLATIN 3 trial has shown in 97.5% of all patients sufficient safety and thus met its prospectively defined aims. After a median of 24 months, 34/38 patients were free of a PSA recurrence.
Postoperative whole-pelvis IMRT with an integrated boost to the prostate bed can be performed safely and without excessive toxicity.
Trial registration
Trial Numbers: ARO 2009–05, NCT01903408.
PMCID: PMC3893457  PMID: 24422782
Prostate; Postoperative Radiotherapy; Antihormonal treatment; Pelvic lymph nodes; IMRT; Tomotherapy
12.  Re-irradiation in the treatment of patients with cerebral metastases of solid tumors: retrospective analysis 
Goal of this retrospective analysis was to evaluate the role of repeat whole brain radiotherapy in the palliative care of patients with brain metastases due to solid tumors.
Data regarding demographic data, primary tumor, metastasis, radiotherapy and symptoms were compiled on 134 patients with cerebral metastases that received repeat whole brain radiotherapy (WBRT) in our clinic between 2002 and 2011.
The analyzed group consisted of 63 (47%) women and 71 (53%) men with a median age of 57 at the start of re-irradiation. Most frequent primary site was the lung (87%).
Sixty patients with lung cancer received the first WBRT prophylactically. At the time of re-WBRT 81% of all patients suffered from additional extracerebral metastases.
Time between first and second WBRT was a median of 13.4 months. Full dose for the first WBRT was 30 Gy in 2.0 Gy single dose, for the second 20 Gy in 2.0 Gy single dose.
At the start of the Re-WBRT 81 patients (60.4%) had mild, 32 (23.9%) severe neurological symptoms, 21 patients (15.7%) were asymptomatic. The median Karnofsky performance status was 70%. Overall, re-WBRT was tolerated satisfactorily. Main side effects were fatigue, erythema and focal alopecia, 10% of patients discontinued treatment before reaching the planned dose. Median survival was 2.8 months since the end of the re-WBRT with good performance status at the start of the re-irradiation being a key indicator for longer survival.
Fifty-two patients (39%) showed a clinical improvement of neurological symptoms after the therapy, 59 patients (44%) remained stable, 23 patients (17%) showed worse symptoms.
From this large patient collective we were able to show that re-WBRT can be an important therapeutic option with low rate of acute side effects for patients in adequate general condition.
PMCID: PMC3904456  PMID: 24387239
Re-irradiation; Brain metastasis; Cerebral metastasis; Whole brain radiotherapy; Palliative care; Solid tumors; Effectiveness; Safety
13.  Intraoperative electron radiation therapy (IOERT) in patients with locally recurrent renal cell carcinoma 
To analyze our experience with intraoperative electron radiation therapy (IOERT) followed by moderate doses of external beam radiation therapy (EBRT) in patients with locally recurrent renal cell carcinoma.
From 1992 to 2010, 17 patients with histologically proven, locally recurrent renal cell carcinoma (median tumor size 7 cm) were treated by surgery and IOERT with a median dose of 15 Gy. All patients met the premise of curative intent including 7 patients with oligometastases at the time of recurrent surgery, which were resected and/or irradiated. The median time interval from primary surgery to local recurrence was 26 months. Eleven patients received additional 3D-conformal EBRT with a median dose of 40 Gy.
Surgery resulted in free but close margins in 6 patients (R0), while 9 patients suffered from microscopic (R1) and 2 patients from macroscopic (R2) residual disease. After a median follow-up of 18 months, two local recurrences were observed, resulting in an actuarial 2-year local control rate of 91%. Eight patients developed distant failures, predominantly to liver and bone, resulting in an actuarial 2-year progression free survival of 32%. An improved PFS rate was found in patients with a larger time interval between initial surgery and recurrence (> 26 months). The actuarial 2-year overall survival rate was 73%. Lower histological grading (G1/2) was the only factor associated with improved overall survival. Perioperative complications were found in 4 patients. No IOERT specific late toxicities were observed.
Combination of surgery, IOERT and EBRT resulted in high local control rates with low toxicity in patients with locally recurrent renal cell cancer despite an unfavorable surgical outcome in the majority of patients. However, progression-free and overall survival were still limited due to a high distant failure rate, indicating the need for intensified systemic treatment especially in patients with high tumor grading and short interval to recurrence.
PMCID: PMC3922867  PMID: 24295293
IOERT; IORT; Recurrent renal cell carcinoma; Renal cell carcinoma; Renal fossa
14.  Randomized controlled trial to evaluate the effects of progressive resistance training compared to progressive muscle relaxation in breast cancer patients undergoing adjuvant radiotherapy: the BEST study 
BMC Cancer  2013;13:162.
Cancer-related fatigue (CRF) is one of the most common and distressing side effects of cancer and its treatment. During and after radiotherapy breast cancer patients often suffer from CRF which frequently impairs quality of life (QoL). Despite the high prevalence of CRF in breast cancer patients and the severe impact on the physical and emotional well-being, effective treatment methods are scarce.
Physical activity for breast cancer patients has been reported to decrease fatigue, to improve emotional well-being and to increase physical strength. The pathophysiological and molecular mechanisms of CRF and the molecular-biologic changes induced by exercise, however, are poorly understood.
In the BEST trial we aim to assess the effects of resistance training on fatigue, QoL and physical fitness as well as on molecular, immunological and inflammatory changes in breast cancer patients during adjuvant radiotherapy.
The BEST study is a prospective randomized, controlled intervention trial investigating the effects of a 12-week supervised progressive resistance training compared to a 12-week supervised muscle relaxation training in 160 patients with breast cancer undergoing adjuvant radiotherapy. To determine the effect of exercise itself beyond potential psychosocial group effects, patients in the control group perform a group-based progressive muscle relaxation training. Main inclusion criterion is histologically confirmed breast cancer stage I-III after lumpectomy or mastectomy with indication for adjuvant radiotherapy. Main exclusion criteria are acute infectious diseases, severe neurological, musculosceletal or cardiorespiratory disorders. The primary endpoint is cancer-related fatigue; secondary endpoints include immunological and inflammatory parameters analyzed in peripheral blood, saliva and urine. In addition, QoL, depression, physical performance and cognitive capacity will be assessed.
The BEST study is the first randomized controlled trial comparing progressive resistance training with muscle relaxation training in breast cancer patients during adjuvant radiotherapy. Based on the analysis of physiological, immunological and inflammatory parameters it will contribute to a better understanding of the physiological and psychosocial effects and the biological mechanisms of resistance training. The ultimate goal is the implementation of optimized intervention programs to reduce fatigue, improve quality of life and potentially the prognosis after breast cancer.
Trial registration NCT01468766
PMCID: PMC3617011  PMID: 23537231
15.  Intensity modulated radiotherapy (IMRT) combined with concurrent but not adjuvant chemotherapy in primary nasopharyngeal cancer – a retrospective single center analysis 
We report our experience in 49 consecutive patients with nasopharyngeal carcinoma who were treated by Intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) combined with simultaneous but not adjuvant chemotherapy (CHT).
The medical records of 49 patients with histologically proven primary nasopharygeal carcinoma treated with IMRT and concurrent platin-based CHT (predominantly cisplatin weekly) were retrospectively reviewed. The majority of patients showed advanced clinical stages (stage III/IV:72%) with undifferentiated histology (82%). IMRT was performed in step-and-shoot technique using an integrated boost concept in 84%. In this concept, the boost volume covered the primary tumor and involved nodes with doses of 66–70.4 Gy (single dose 2.2 Gy). Uninvolved regional nodal areas were covered with doses of 54–59.4 Gy (median single dose 1.8 Gy). At least one parotid gland was spared. None of the patients received adjuvant CHT.
The median follow-up for the entire cohort was 48 months. Radiation therapy was completed without interruption in all patients and 76% of the patients received at least 80% of the scheduled CHT. Four local recurrences have been observed, transferring into 1-, 3-, and 5-year Local Control (LC) rates of 98%, 90% and 90%. One patient developed an isolated regional nodal recurrence, resulting in 1-, 3-, and 5-year Regional Control (RC) rates of 98%. All locoregional failures were located inside the radiation fields. Distant metastases were found in six patients, transferring into 1-, 3, and 5-year Distant Control (DC) rates of 92%, 86% and 86%. Progression free survival (PFS) rates after 1, 3 and 5 years were 86%, 70% and 69% and 1-, 3- and 5-year Overall Survival (OS) rates were 96%, 82% and 79%. Acute toxicity ≥ grade III mainly consisted of dysphagia (32%), leukopenia (24%), stomatitis (16%), infection (8%) and nausea (8%). Severe late toxicity (grade III) was documented in 18% of the patients, mainly as xerostomia (10%).
Concurrent chemoradiation without the addition of adjuvant chemotherapy cycles using IMRT with an integrated boost concept yielded good disease control and overall survival in patients suffering from primary nasopharyngeal cancer with acceptable acute side effects and limited rates of late toxicity.
PMCID: PMC3599603  PMID: 23347410
Nasopharyngeal cancer; IMRT; Concurrent chemotherapy
16.  Intraoperative Electron Radiation Therapy (IOERT) in the management of locally recurrent rectal cancer 
BMC Cancer  2012;12:592.
To evaluate disease control, overall survival and prognostic factors in patients with locally recurrent rectal cancer after IOERT-containing multimodal therapy.
Between 1991 and 2006, 97 patients with locally recurrent rectal cancer have been treated with surgery and IOERT. IOERT was preceded or followed by external beam radiation therapy (EBRT) in 54 previously untreated patients (median dose 41.4 Gy) usually combined with 5-Fluouracil-based chemotherapy (89%). IOERT was delivered via cylindric cones with doses of 10–20 Gy. Adjuvant CHT was given only in a minority of patients (34%). Median follow-up was 51 months.
Margin status was R0 in 37%, R1 in 33% and R2 in 30% of the patients. Neoadjuvant EBRT resulted in significantly increased rates of free margins (52% vs. 24%). Median overall survival was 39 months. Estimated 5-year rates for central control (inside the IOERT area), local control (inside the pelvis), distant control and overall survival were 54%, 41%, 40% and 30%. Resection margin was the strongest prognostic factor for overall survival (3-year OS of 80% (R0), 37% (R1), 35% (R2)) and LC (3-year LC 82% (R0), 41% (R1), 18% (R2)) in the multivariate model. OS was further significantly affected by clinical stage at first diagnosis and achievement of local control after treatment in the univariate model. Distant failures were found in 46 patients, predominantly in the lung. 90-day postoperative mortality was 3.1%.
Long term OS and LC can be achieved in a substantial proportion of patients with recurrent rectal cancer using a multimodality IOERT-containing approach, especially in case of clear margins. LC and OS remain limited in patients with incomplete resection. Preoperative re-irradiation and adjuvant chemotherapy may be considered to improve outcome.
PMCID: PMC3557137  PMID: 23231663
Recurrent; Rectal cancer; IOERT
17.  Accelerated large volume irradiation with dynamic Jaw/Dynamic Couch Helical Tomotherapy 
Helical Tomotherapy (HT) has unique capacities for the radiotherapy of large and complicated target volumes. Next generation Dynamic Jaw/Dynamic Couch HT delivery promises faster treatments and reduced exposure of organs at risk due to a reduced dose penumbra.
Three challenging clinical situations were chosen for comparison between Regular HT delivery with a field width of 2.5 cm (Reg 2.5) and 5.0 cm (Reg 5.0) and DJDC delivery with a maximum field width of 5.0 cm (DJDC 5.0): Hemithoracic Irradiation, Whole Abdominal Irradiation (WAI) and Total Marrow Irradiation (TMI). For each setting, five CT data sets were chosen, and target coverage, conformity, integral dose, dose exposure of organs at risk (OAR) and treatment time were calculated.
Both Reg 5.0 and DJDC 5.0 achieved a substantial reduction in treatment time while maintaining similar dose coverage. Treatment time could be reduced from 10:57 min to 3:42 min / 5:10 min (Reg 5.0 / DJDC 5.0) for Hemithoracic Irradiation, from 18:03 min to 8:02 min / 8:03 min for WAI and to 18:25 min / 18:03 min for TMI. In Hemithoracic Irradiation, OAR exposure was identical in all modalities. For WAI, Reg 2.5 resulted in lower exposure of liver and bone. DJDC plans showed a small but significant increase of ∼ 1 Gy to the kidneys, the parotid glans and the thyroid gland. While Reg 5.0 and DJDC were identical in terms of OAR exposure, integral dose was substantially lower with DJDC, caused by a smaller dose penumbra.
Although not clinically available yet, next generation DJDC HT technique is efficient in improving the treatment time while maintaining comparable plan quality.
PMCID: PMC3544594  PMID: 23146914
Dynamic jaw/dynamic couch; Helical tomotherapy; Large volumes; Hemithoracic irradiation; Whole abdominal irradiation; Total marrow irradiation
18.  Hypofractionated helical intensity-modulated radiotherapy of the prostate bed after prostatectomy with or without the pelvic lymph nodes - the PRIAMOS trial 
BMC Cancer  2012;12:504.
While evidence on safety and efficacy of primary hypofractionated radiotherapy in prostate cancer is accumulating, data on postoperative hypofractionated treatment of the prostate bed and of the pelvic lymph nodes is still scarce. This phase II trial was initiated to investigate safety and feasibility of hypofractionated treatment of the prostate bed alone or with the pelvic lymph nodes.
A total of 80 prostate cancer patients with the indication for adjuvant radiotherapy will be enrolled, where 40 patients with a low risk of lymph node involvement (arm 1) and another 40 patients with a high risk of lymph node involvement (arm 2) will each receive 54 Gy in 18 fractions to the prostate bed. Arm 2 will be given 45 Gy to the pelvic lymph nodes additionally. Helical Tomotherapy and daily image guidance will be used.
This trial was initiated to substantiate data on hypofractionated treatment of the prostate bed and generate first data on adjuvant hypofractionated radiotherapy of the pelvic lymph nodes.
Trial registration; NCT01620710
PMCID: PMC3495015  PMID: 23114055
Prostate cancer; Radiotherapy; Hypofractionation; Helical tomotherapy; Prostate bed; Pelvic lymph nodes
19.  Aggressive local treatment containing intraoperative radiation therapy (IORT) for patients with isolated local recurrences of pancreatic cancer: a retrospective analysis 
BMC Cancer  2012;12:295.
To evaluate the use of intraoperative radiation therapy (IORT) in the multimodality treatment of patients with isolated local recurrences of pancreatic cancer.
We retrospectively analyzed 36 patients with isolated local recurrences of pancreatic cancer who have been treated with a combination of surgery, IORT and EBRT. Median time from initial treatment to recurrence was 20 months. All patients were surgically explored. In 18 patients a gross total resection was achieved, whereas the other half received only debulking or no resection at all. All patients received IORT with a median dose of 15 Gy. Additional EBRT was applied to 31 patients with a median dose of 45 Gy, combined with concurrent, mainly gemcitabine-based chemotherapy.
Median follow-up in surviving patients was 23 months. Local progression was found in 6 patients after a median time of 17 months, resulting in estimated 1- and 2-year local control rates of 91% and 67%, respectively. Distant failure was observed in 23 patients, mainly in liver or peritoneal space. The median estimated progression-free survival was 9 months with 1- and 2-year rates of 40% and 26%, respectively. We found an encouraging estimated median overall survival of 19 months, transferring into 1- and 2-year rates of 66% and 45%. Notably 6 of 36 patients (17%) lived for more than 3 years. Severe postoperative complications were found in 3 and chemoradiation-related grade III toxicity in 6 patients. No severe IORT related toxicity was observed.
Combination of surgery, IORT and EBRT in patients with isolated local recurrences of pancreatic cancer resulted in encouraging local control and overall survival in our cohort with acceptable toxicity. Our approach seems to be superior to palliative chemotherapy or chemoradiation alone and should be further investigated in a prospective setting specifically addressing isolated local recurrences of pancreatic cancer.
PMCID: PMC3414804  PMID: 22809267
Pancreatic cancer; Isolated local recurrence; IORT
20.  A Clinical phase I/II trial to investigate preoperative dose-escalated intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) and intraoperative radiation therapy (IORT) in patients with retroperitoneal soft tissue sarcoma 
BMC Cancer  2012;12:287.
Local control rates in patients with retroperitoneal soft tissue sarcoma (RSTS) remain disappointing even after gross total resection, mainly because wide margins are not achievable in the majority of patients. In contrast to extremity sarcoma, postoperative radiation therapy (RT) has shown limited efficacy due to its limitations in achievable dose and coverage. Although Intraoperative Radiation Therapy (IORT) has been introduced in some centers to overcome the dose limitations and resulted in increased outcome, local failure rates are still high even if considerable treatment related toxicity is accepted. As postoperative administration of RT has some general disadvantages, neoadjuvant approaches could offer benefits in terms of dose escalation, target coverage and reduction of toxicity, especially if highly conformal techniques like intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) are considered.
The trial is a prospective, one armed, single center phase I/II study investigating a combination of neoadjuvant dose-escalated IMRT (50–56 Gy) followed by surgery and IORT (10–12 Gy) in patients with at least marginally resectable RSTS. The primary objective is the local control rate after five years. Secondary endpoints are progression-free and overall survival, acute and late toxicity, surgical resectability and patterns of failure. The aim of accrual is 37 patients in the per-protocol population.
The present study evaluates combined neoadjuvant dose-escalated IMRT followed by surgery and IORT concerning its value for improved local control without markedly increased toxicity.
Trial registration
PMCID: PMC3495760  PMID: 22788989
21.  Optimization of a Novel Peptide Ligand Targeting Human Carbonic Anhydrase IX 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(5):e38279.
Carbonic anhydrase IX (CA IX) is a hypoxia-regulated transmembrane protein over-expressed in various types of human cancer. Recently, a new peptide with affinity for human carbonic anhydrase IX (CaIX-P1) was identified using the phage display technology. Aim of the present study is to characterize the binding site in the sequence of CaIX-P1, in order to optimize the binding and metabolic properties and use it for targeting purposes.
Methodology/Principal Findings
Various fragments of CaIX-P1 were synthesized on solid support using Fmoc chemistry. Alanine scanning was performed for identification of the amino acids crucial for target binding. Derivatives with increased binding affinity were radiolabeled and in vitro studies were carried out on the CA IX positive human renal cell carcinoma cell line SKRC 52 and the CA IX negative human pancreatic carcinoma cell line BxPC3. Metabolic stability was investigated in cell culture medium and human serum. Organ distribution and planar scintigraphy studies were performed in Balb/c nu/nu mice carrying subcutaneously transplanted SKRC 52 tumors.
The results of our studies clearly identified amino acids that are important for target binding. Among various fragments and derivatives the ligand CaIX-P1-4-10 (NHVPLSPy) was found to possess increased binding potential in SKRC 52 cells, whereas no binding capacity for BxPC3 cells was observed. Binding of radiolabeled CaIX-P1-4-10 on CA IX positive cells could be inhibited by both the unlabeled and the native CaIX-P1 peptide but not by control peptides. Stability experiments indicated the degradation site in the sequence of CaIX-P1-4-10. Biodistribution studies showed a higher in vivo accumulation in the tumor than in most healthy tissues.
Our data reveal modifications in the sequence of the CA IX affine ligand CaIX-P1 that might be favorable for improvement of target affinity and metabolic stability, which are necessary prior to the use of the ligand in clinical approaches.
PMCID: PMC3365038  PMID: 22693612
22.  Clinical phase I/II trial to investigate neoadjuvant intensity-modulated short term radiation therapy (5 × 5 gy) and intraoperative radiation therapy (15 gy) in patients with primarily resectable pancreatic cancer - NEOPANC 
BMC Cancer  2012;12:112.
The current standard treatment, at least in Europe, for patients with primarily resectable tumors, consists of surgery followed by adjuvant chemotherapy. But even in this prognostic favourable group, long term survival is disappointing because of high local and distant failure rates. Postoperative chemoradiation has shown improved local control and overalls survival compared to surgery alone but the value of additional radiation has been questioned in case of adjuvant chemotherapy. However, there remains a strong rationale for the addition of radiation therapy considering the high rates of microscopically incomplete resections after surgery. As postoperative administration of radiation therapy has some general disadvantages, neoadjuvant and intraoperative approaches theoretically offer benefits in terms of dose escalation, reduction of toxicity and patients comfort especially if hypofractionated regimens with highly conformal techniques like intensity-modulated radiation therapy are considered.
The NEOPANC trial is a prospective, one armed, single center phase I/II study investigating a combination of neoadjuvant short course intensity-modulated radiation therapy (5 × 5 Gy) in combination with surgery and intraoperative radiation therapy (15 Gy), followed by adjuvant chemotherapy according to the german treatment guidelines, in patients with primarily resectable pancreatic cancer. The aim of accrual is 46 patients.
The primary objectives of the NEOPANC trial are to evaluate the general feasibility of this approach and the local recurrence rate after one year. Secondary endpoints are progression-free survival, overall survival, acute and late toxicity, postoperative morbidity and mortality and quality of life.
Trial registration
PMCID: PMC3323416  PMID: 22443802
23.  Long-term outcome and patterns of failure in patients with advanced head and neck cancer 
To access the long-time outcome and patterns of failure in patients with advanced head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC).
Methods and materials
Between 1992 and 2005 127 patients (median age 55 years, UICC stage III n = 6, stage IV n = 121) with primarily inoperable, advanced HNSCC were treated with definite platinum-based radiochemotherapy (median dose 66.4 Gy). Analysed end-points were overall survival (OS), disease-free survival (DFS), loco-regional progression-free survival (LPFS), development of distant metastases (DM), prognostic factors and causes of death.
The mean follow-up time was 34 months (range, 3-156 months), the 3-, 5- and 10-year OS rates were 39%, 28% and 14%, respectively. The median OS was 23 months. Forty-seven patients achieved a complete remission and 78 patients a partial remission. The median LPFS was 17 months, the 3-, 5- and 10-year LPFS rates were 41%, 33% and 30%, respectively. The LPFS was dependent on the nodal stage (p = 0.029). The median DFS was 11 months (range, 2-156 months), the 3-, 5- and 10-year DFS rates were 30%, 24% and 22%, respectively. Prognostic factors in univariate analyses were alcohol abuse (n = 102, p = 0.015), complete remission (n = 47, p < 0.001), local recurrence (n = 71, p < 0.001), development of DM (n = 45, p < 0.001; median OS 16 months) and borderline significance in nodal stage N2 versus N3 (p = 0.06). Median OS was 26 months with lung metastases (n = 17). Nodal stage was a predictive factor for the development of DM (p = 0.025). Cause of death was most commonly tumor progression.
In stage IV HNSCC long-term survival is rare and DM is a significant predictor for mortality. If patients developed DM, lung metastases had the most favourable prognosis, so intensified palliative treatment might be justified in DM limited to the lungs.
PMCID: PMC3128839  PMID: 21663634
HNSCC; head and neck cancer; radiotherapy; radiochemotherapy; irradiation; long-term follow-up
24.  Randomized controlled phase I/II study to investigate immune stimulatory effects by low dose radiotherapy in primarily operable pancreatic cancer 
BMC Cancer  2011;11:134.
The efficiencies of T cell based immunotherapies are affected by insufficient migration and activation of tumor specific effector T cells in the tumor. Accumulating evidence exists on the ability of ionizing radiation to modify the tumor microenvironment and generate inflammation. The aim of this phase I/II clinical trial is to evaluate whether low dose single fraction radiotherapy can improve T cell associated antitumor immune response in patients with pancreatic cancer.
This trial has been designed as an investigator initiated; prospective randomised, 4-armed, controlled Phase I/II trial. Patients who are candidates for resection of pancreatic cancer will be randomized into 4 arms. A total of 40 patients will be enrolled. The patients receive 0 Gy, 0.5 Gy, 2 Gy or 5 Gy radiation precisely targeted to their pancreatic carcinoma. Radiation will be delivered by external beam radiotherapy using a 6 MV Linac with IMRT technique 48 h prior to the surgical resection. The primary objective is the determination of an active local external beam radiation dose, leading to tumor infiltrating T cells as a surrogate parameter for antitumor activity. Secondary objectives include local tumor control and recurrence patterns, survival, radiogenic treatment toxicity and postoperative morbidity and mortality, as well as quality of life. Further, frequencies of tumor reactive T cells in blood and bone marrow as well as whole blood cell transcriptomics and plasma-proteomics will be correlated with clinical outcome. An interim analysis will be performed after the enrolment of 20 patients for safety reasons. The evaluation of the primary endpoint will start four weeks after the last patient's enrolment.
This trial will answer the question whether a low dose radiotherapy localized to the pancreatic tumor only can increase the number of tumor infiltrating T cells and thus potentially enhance the antitumor immune response. The study will also investigate the prognostic and predictive value of radiation-induced T cell activity along with transcriptomic and proteomic data with respect to clinical outcome.
Trial registration - NCT01027221
PMCID: PMC3101175  PMID: 21489291
pancreatic cancer; immune therapy; low dose radiation; T-cells
25.  Intensity modulated or fractionated stereotactic reirradiation in patients with recurrent nasopharyngeal cancer 
To report our experience with intensity-modulated or stereotactic reirradiation in patients suffering from recurrent nasopharyngeal carcinoma
Patients and Methods
The records of 17 patients with recurrent nasopharygeal carcinoma treated by intensity-modulated (n = 14) or stereotactic (n = 3) reirradiation in our institution were reviewed. Median age was 53 years and most patients (n = 14) were male. The majority of tumors showed undifferentiated histology (n = 14) and infiltration of intracranial structures (n = 12). Simultaneous systemic therapy was applied in 8 patients. Initial treatment covered the gross tumor volume with a median dose of 66 Gy (50-72 Gy) and the cervical nodal regions with a median dose of 56 Gy (50-60 Gy). Reirradiation was confined to the local relapse region with a median dose of 50.4 Gy (36-64Gy), resulting in a median cumulative dose of 112 Gy (91-134 Gy). The median time interval between initial and subsequent treatment was 52 months (6-132).
The median follow up for the entire cohort was 20 months and 31 months for survivors (10-84). Five patients (29%) developed isolated local recurrences and three patients (18%) suffered from isolated nodal recurrences. The actuarial 1- and 2-year rates of local/locoregional control were 76%/59% and 69%/52%, respectively. Six patients developed distant metastasis during the follow up period. The median actuarial overall survival for the entire cohort was 23 months, transferring into 1-, 2-, and 3-year overall survival rates of 82%, 44% and 37%. Univariate subset analyses showed significantly increased overall survival and local control for patients with less advanced rT stage, retreatment doses > 50 Gy, concurrent systemic treatment and complete response. Severe late toxicity (Grad III) attributable to reirradiation occurred in five patients (29%), particularly as hearing loss, alterations of taste/smell, cranial neuropathy, trismus and xerostomia.
Reirradiation with intensity-modulated or stereotactic techniques in recurrent nasopharyngeal carcinoma is feasible and yields encouraging results in terms of local control and overall survival in patients with acceptable toxicity in patients with less advanced recurrences. However, the achievable outcome is limited in patients with involvement of intracranial structures, emphasising the need for close monitoring after primary therapy.
PMCID: PMC3055828  PMID: 21356126

Results 1-25 (32)