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1.  Impact of delays in initiating postoperative chemoradiation while determining the MGMT promoter-methylation statuses of patients with primary glioblastoma 
BMC Cancer  2015;15:558.
The benefits of new innovations in glioblastoma therapies should not be curtailed as a result of delays in commencement of radiation therapy, caused by clinical circumstances as well as diagnostic procedures. This study evaluates whether delays in chemo-radiotherapy after surgery, while determining O6-methylguanine-DNA-methyltransferase (MGMT) promoter status, affect the survival rates of patients with glioblastoma (GBM).
Our sample comprised 50 GBM patients in a retrospective analysis of three prospective studies that focused on combined radiotherapy and required MGMT promoter-status testing as inclusion criteria. Results were compared with a reference group of 127 favourable GBM cases (Karnofsky performance-status scale ≥ 70), in which the patients underwent standard postoperative chemo-radiotherapy with temozolomide. Survival time was calculated using the Kaplan-Meier method, and a multivariate analysis of the delays between surgical and radiotherapy procedures was performed using the Cox regression model.
The study group’s median overall survival time was 16.2 months (with a range of 2 to 56 months), versus the reference group’s survival time of 18.2 months (with a range of 1 to 92 months) (p = 0.64). The delay between surgery and radiotherapy was increased by 8 days in the study patients (p < 0.001), with a median delay of 35 days (range: 18–49 days) corresponding to the typical 27-day delay (range: 5–98 days) for those in the reference group. Univariate and multivariate analyses did not show any negative association between survival time and delaying radiation therapy to determine MGMT-promoter status; commencement of radiation therapy sooner than 24 days after surgery was the threshold for significantly decreased overall survival (p = 0.01) and progression-free (p = 0.03) survival.
Delaying postoperative chemoradiation for GBM patients—carried out in order to determine MGMT-promoter status—did not have a negative impact on survival time. Indeed, the data of the present study shows that initiating radiation therapy sooner than 24 days after surgery has a negative impact on progression and survival.
PMCID: PMC4518587
MGMT promoter; Glioblastoma; Treatment delay; Radiation therapy
2.  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;14:617.
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
3.  Trimodal therapy for stage III-N2 non-small-cell lung carcinoma: a single center retrospective analysis 
BMC Cancer  2014;14:572.
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
4.  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
5.  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
6.  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
7.  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
8.  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
9.  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
10.  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
11.  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
12.  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
13.  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
14.  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
15.  Phase II study evaluating consolidation whole abdominal intensity-modulated radiotherapy (IMRT) in patients with advanced ovarian cancer stage FIGO III - The OVAR-IMRT-02 Study 
BMC Cancer  2011;11:41.
The prognosis for patients with advanced FIGO stage III epithelial ovarian cancer remains poor despite the aggressive standard treatment, consisting of maximal cytoreductive surgery and platinum-based chemotherapy. The median time to recurrence is less than 2 years, with a 5-years survival rate of -20-25%. Recurrences of the disease occur mostly intraperitoneally.
Ovarian cancer is a radiosensitive tumor, so that the use of whole abdominal radiotherapy (WAR) as a consolidation therapy would appear to be a logical strategy. WAR used to be the standard treatment after surgery before the chemotherapy era; however, it has been almost totally excluded from the treatment of ovarian cancer during the past decade because of its high toxicity. Modern intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) has the potential of sparing organs at risk like kidneys, liver, and bone marrow while still adequately covering the peritoneal cavity with a homogenous dose.
Our previous phase I study showed for the first time the clinical feasibility of intensity-modulated WAR and pointed out promising results concerning treatment tolerance. The current phase-II study succeeds to the phase-I study to further evaluate the toxicity of this new treatment.
The OVAR-IMRT-02 study is a single-center one arm phase-II trial. Thirty seven patients with optimally debulked ovarian cancer stage FIGO III having a complete remission after chemotherapy will be treated with intensity-modulated WAR as a consolidation therapy.
A total dose of 30 Gy in 20 fractions of 1.5 Gy will be applied to the entire peritoneal cavity including the liver surface and the pelvic and para-aortic node regions. Organ at risk are kidneys, liver (except the 1 cm-outer border), heart, vertebral bodies and pelvic bones.
Primary endpoint is tolerability; secondary objectives are toxicity, quality of life, progression-free and overall survival.
Intensity-modulated WAR provides a new promising option in the consolidation treatment of ovarian carcinoma in patients with a complete pathologic remission after adjuvant chemotherapy. Further consequent studies will be needed to enable firm conclusions regarding the value of consolidation radiotherapy within the multimodal treatment of advanced ovarian cancer.
Trial registration NCT01180504
PMCID: PMC3045983  PMID: 21276234
16.  Adjuvant whole abdominal intensity modulated radiotherapy (IMRT) for high risk stage FIGO III patients with ovarian cancer (OVAR-IMRT-01) – Pilot trial of a phase I/II study: study protocol 
BMC Cancer  2007;7:227.
The prognosis for patients with advanced epithelial ovarian cancer remains poor despite aggressive surgical resection and platinum-based chemotherapy. More than 60% of patients will develop recurrent disease, principally intraperitoneal, and die within 5 years. The use of whole abdominal irradiation (WAI) as consolidation therapy would appear to be a logical strategy given its ability to sterilize small tumour volumes. Despite the clinically proven efficacy of whole abdominal irradiation, the use of radiotherapy in ovarian cancer has profoundly decreased mainly due to high treatment-related toxicity. Modern intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) could allow to spare kidneys, liver, and bone marrow while still adequately covering the peritoneal cavity with a homogenous dose.
The OVAR-IMRT-01 study is a single center pilot trial of a phase I/II study. Patients with advanced ovarian cancer stage FIGO III (R1 or R2< 1 cm) after surgical resection and platinum-based chemotherapy will be treated with whole abdomen irradiation as consolidation therapy using intensity modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) to a total dose of 30 Gy in 1.5 Gy fractions. A total of 8 patients will be included in this trial. For treatment planning bone marrow, kidneys, liver, spinal cord, vertebral bodies and pelvic bones are defined as organs at risk. The planning target volume includes the entire peritoneal cavity plus pelvic and para-aortic node regions.
The primary endpoint of the study is the evaluation of the feasibility of intensity-modulated WAI and the evaluation of the study protocol. Secondary endpoint is evaluation of the toxicity of intensity modulated WAI before continuing with the phase I/II study. The aim is to explore the potential of IMRT as a new method for WAI to decrease the dose to kidneys, liver, bone marrow while covering the peritoneal cavity with a homogenous dose, and to implement whole abdominal intensity-modulated radiotherapy into the adjuvant multimodal treatment concept of advanced ovarian cancer FIGO stage III.
PMCID: PMC2212657  PMID: 18093313
17.  Small molecule receptor tyrosine kinase inhibitor of platelet-derived growth factor signaling (SU9518) modifies radiation response in fibroblasts and endothelial cells 
BMC Cancer  2006;6:79.
Several small receptor tyrosine kinase inhibitors (RTKI) have entered clinical cancer trials alone and in combination with radiotherapy or chemotherapy. The inhibitory spectrum of these compounds is often not restricted to a single target. For example Imatinib/Gleevec (primarily a bcr/abl kinase inhibitor) or SU11248 (mainly a VEGFR inhibitor) are also potent inhibitors of PDGFR and other kinases. We showed previously that PDGF signaling inhibition attenuates radiation-induced lung fibrosis in a mouse model. Here we investigate effects of SU9518, a PDGFR inhibitor combined with ionizing radiation in human primary fibroblasts and endothelial cells in vitro, with a view on utilizing RTKI for antifibrotic therapy.
Protein levels of PDGFR-α/-β and phosphorylated PDGFR in fibroblasts were analyzed using western and immunocytochemistry assays. Functional proliferation and clonogenic assays were performed (i) to assess PDGFR-mediated survival and proliferation in fibroblasts and endothelial cells after SU9518 (small molecule inhibitor of PDGF receptor tyrosine kinase); (ii) to test the potency und selectivity of the PDGF RTK inhibitor after stimulation with PDGF isoforms (-AB, -AA, -BB) and VEGF+bFGF. In order to simulate in vivo conditions and to understand the role of radiation-induced paracrine PDGF secretion, co-culture models consisting of fibroblasts and endothelial cells were employed.
In fibroblasts, radiation markedly activated PDGF signaling as detected by enhanced PDGFR phosphorylation which was potently inhibited by SU9518. In fibroblast clonogenic assay, SU9518 reduced PDGF stimulated fibroblast survival by 57%. Likewise, SU9518 potently inhibited fibroblast and endothelial cell proliferation. In the co-culture model, radiation of endothelial cells and fibroblast cells substantially stimulated proliferation of non irradiated fibroblasts and vice versa. Importantly, the RTK inhibitor significantly inhibited this paracrine radiation-induced fibroblast and endothelial cell activation.
Radiation-induced autocrine and paracrine PDGF signaling plays an important role in fibroblast and endothelial cell proliferation. SU9518, a PDGFR tyrosine kinase inhibitor, reduces radiation-induced fibroblast and endothelial cell activation. This may explain therapeutic anticancer effects of Imatinib/Gleevec, and at the same time it could open a way of attenuating radiation-induced fibrosis.
PMCID: PMC1458351  PMID: 16556328

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