J Cancer 2016; 7(7):774-783. doi:10.7150/jca.14399 This issue

Research Paper

Phase I/II Trial Evaluating Carbon Ion Radiotherapy for Salvaging Treatment of Locally Recurrent Nasopharyngeal Carcinoma

Lin Kong1, Jiyi Hu2, Xiyin Guan2, Jing Gao2, Rong Lu3, Jiade J. Lu2✉

1. Department of Radiation Oncology, Shanghai Proton and Heavy Ion Center, Fudan University Shanghai Cancer Center, Shanghai, China;
2. Department of Radiation Oncology, Shanghai Proton and Heavy Ion Center, Shanghai, China;
3. Department of Outpatient Clinic, Shanghai Proton and Heavy Ion Center, Shanghai, China.

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Kong L, Hu J, Guan X, Gao J, Lu R, Lu JJ. Phase I/II Trial Evaluating Carbon Ion Radiotherapy for Salvaging Treatment of Locally Recurrent Nasopharyngeal Carcinoma. J Cancer 2016; 7(7):774-783. doi:10.7150/jca.14399. Available from https://www.jcancer.org/v07p0774.htm

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Background: Radiation therapy is the mainstay strategy for the treatment of nasopharyngeal cancer (NPC). Intensity-modulated X-ray therapy (IMXT) alone is the current standard for stage I and II NPC. For stage III and IV A/B diseases, concurrent chemotherapy should be provided in addition to IMXT. However, optimal treatment for locally recurrent NPC after previous definitive dose of radiotherapy is lacking. Various techniques including brachytherapy, IMXT, stereotactic radiosurgery or radiotherapy (SRS or SBRT) have been used in the management of locally recurrent NPC. Due to the inherent limitation of these techniques, i.e., limited range of irradiation or over-irradiation to surrounding normal tissues, moderate efficacy has been observed at the cost of severe toxicities. Carbon ion radiotherapy (CIRT) offers potential physical and biological advantages over photon and proton radiotherapy. Due to the inverted dose profile of particle beams and their greater energy deposition within the Bragg peak, precise dose delivery to the target volume(s) without exposing the surrounding organs at risk to extra doses is possible. In addition, CIRT provides an increased relative biological effectiveness (RBE) as compared to photon and proton radiotherapy. Such advantages may translate to improved outcomes after irradiation in terms of disease control in radio-resistant and previously treated, recurrent malignancies. It is therefore reasonable to postulate that recurrent NPC after high-dose radiotherapy could be more resistant to re-irradiation using photons. Reports on the treatment of radio-resistant malignancies in the head and neck region such as melanoma, sarcoma, and adenoid cystic carcinoma (ACC) have demonstrated superior local control rates from CIRT as compared to photon irradiation. Thus patients with recurrent NPC are likely to benefit from the enhanced biological effectiveness of carbon ions. As effective retreatment strategy is lacking for locally recurrent NPC, carbon ion radiation therapy offers an ideal alternate to conventional X-ray irradiation.

Methods and Design: The recommended dose of re-irradiation using CIRT for locally recurrent NPC will be determined in the dose-escalating phase (Phase I) of the study. Efficacy in terms of local progression-free survival (LPFS) and overall survival (OS) will be studied in the second phase of the study. Increasing doses of CIRT using raster scanning technology from 55GyE (22×2.5 GyE) to 65 GyE (26× 2.5 GyE) will be delivered in the Phase I part of the study. The primary endpoint of the Phase I part of the study is acute and sub-acute toxicities; the primary endpoint in the Phase II part is local progression-free survival and overall survival. Using the historical 2-year OS rate of 50% in locally recurrent NPC patients treated with photon or proton, we hypothesize that CIRT can improve the 2-year OS rate to 70%.

Discussion: The utilization of conventional radiation techniques including IMXT, brachytherapy, or stereotactic radiation therapy provides moderate efficacy in the treatment of locally recurrent NPC due to the limitations in dose distribution and biological effectiveness. Improved outcome in terms of treatment-induced toxicity, LC, LPFS, and OS are expected using CIRT due to the physical and biological characteristics of carbon ion beam. However, the recommended dose of CIRT used in re-irradiation for the local NPC focus remain to be determined. The recommended dose as well as the efficacy of CIRT in the treatment of locally recurrent NPC will be evaluated in the present trial.

Keywords: Carbon Ion Radiotherapy, recurrent nasopharyngeal cancer