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Phase III Randomized Clinical Trial to Compare Results of Concurrent Chemo-radiation With Surgery and Postoperative Radiotherapy/Chemoradiotherapy in Advanced Laryngeal and Hypopharyngeal Cancers

Phase 3
18 Years
75 Years
Not Enrolling
Larynx Neoplasms

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Trial Information

Phase III Randomized Clinical Trial to Compare Results of Concurrent Chemo-radiation With Surgery and Postoperative Radiotherapy/Chemoradiotherapy in Advanced Laryngeal and Hypopharyngeal Cancers

TL + PORT has traditionally been the gold standard in management of ALHC. However, this
results in permanent tracheostomy and a possible loss of speech. In case of partial
laryngectomy and even in case of TL, there are various options of voice rehabilitation but
the successes of all these procedures are highly variable. In 1980s several authors
reported interesting possibility of LP with ICT. The first randomized study (RCT) came from
VA group who randomized patients to receive either 2 cycles of ICT + RT Vs surgery +PORT.
Patients with more than PR received a 3rd cycle followed by definitive RT. There were more
local recurrences and fewer distant metastases in the ICT arm. Of the 166 ICT patients,
nearly 1/3rd required salvage TL with ultimate LP in 66% surviving patients. These results
proved that ICT and definitive RT can be effective in LP without compromising overall
survival. European Organization for Research and Treatment of Cancer (EORTC) study randomly
assigned hypopharynx cancer patients to receive either immediate surgery with PORT (arm 1)
or ICT. Patients with a CR after 2 or 3 cycles of CT were treated there after by RT.
Locoregional failures occurred at approximately the same frequencies in both arms but there
were fewer distant failures in the ICT arm. The median survival was found to be similar in
both arms with LPR of 35% in the ICT arm. This study showed the feasibility of LP in
patients with cancer of the hypopharynx. A smaller trial from MSKCC15 reported 52% LPR and
another European RCT reported poorer survival in the CT arm with LPR of 20% only. The latter
trial had a smaller number of patients and imbalance in randomized groups (4 out of 5 stage
IV patients got randomized into CT arm) that could have flawed the outcome. The 3 RCTs
(excluding MSKCC trial) were compiled by MACH-NC to obtain a meta analysis that showed
similar disease free survival and a non significant trend of higher 6% survival in pooled
surgery arm which was counterbalanced by LPR of 58% in the pooled CT arm. Quality of life
measures performed as part of the VA study demonstrated that LP offers better speech, good
communication skills, lesser pain and depression compared to surgery.

In three arm study by RTOG (91-11), incidence of laryngectomy was 28% in induction (ICT)
chemotherapy arm, 16% in concomitant arm, and 31% in radiation(RT) alone arm. Following TL,
the incidence of major and minor complications ranged from 52% to 59% and did not differ
significantly among the 3 arms. Fistula was lowest in RT alone arm (15%) and highest in
concomitant arm (30%). Similar experience was reported from MSKCC with fistulas occurring in
39%, resulting in prolonged hospitalization. When compared with complication rates of
surgery in untreated patients, the complication rates following unsuccessful LP protocol is
significantly higher. In spite of higher morbidity, local-regional control is excellent for
this group of patients. In RTOG trial, local-regional control following SS was 74% for CT
arms and 90% for RT alone arm. At 24 months, the overall survival was equal in all arms.

The necessity of adding chemotherapy to radiotherapy itself is debatable. The MACH -NC
reported 4% improvement in overall survival at 2 and 5 yrs with CT. So to prevent death of
400 patients at 5 years, 10,000 patients would have to undergo CT. In O'Sullivan'
questionnaire based study, apart from extent of disease the other significant variables that
influenced treatment recommendation were physicians specialty and their geographical area of
practice. Most LP protocols are often accompanied by increased toxicity and are generally
achieved in good performance status patients unlike majority of head and neck cancer
patients. In VA trial, 77% patients had Karnofsky performance score (KPS) more than 80 and
in RTOG 91-11 trial, 2/3 patients had KPS 90 or more. In RTOG trial, the mucosal toxicity in
concurrent CT+RT arm was twice as much as the mucosal toxicity in other two arms. High grade
toxic effects occurred more when CT was added to RT but there was no significant difference
in rate of toxic effects between concurrent arm and ICT arm. Incidence of treatment
modification, treatment interruption and hospitalizations are higher (compared to RT alone)
when CT is administered concomitantly or during altered fractionation due to complications
such as mucositis, dysphagia, pain, desquamation etc. The indirect costs attributable to
non-surgical approaches e.g frequent expensive imagings, duration of treatment , duration of
recuperation, cost of chemotherapy drugs, enhanced need for supportive care, stringent
follow up and salvage surgery (in one third to half of the patients) may be more than the
costs for radical surgery. Careful monitoring of the conservatively treated patient is
mandatory to allow for early salvage of failures (in VA trial, induction CT arm had more
local recurrences and only 2% patients were lost to follow-up). Given the infirmity and poor
compliance of head and neck cancer patients such a stringent follow-up appears difficult (in
VA trial patients were followed up every month for 1st year).

Nearly 40-60% patients fail on LPP and predicting this failure before spares these patients
of unnecessary chemoradiation and its toxicities, trauma of recurrent disease and
complications of salvage surgery. Mutation of the p53 gene has been found to regulate cell
proliferation and chemosensitivity. LP is significantly higher in the group of patients
whose tumors over expressed p53 but it does not predict survival. A retrospective study
nested within the VA study reported that T stage, p53 over-expression and elevated
proliferating cell nuclear antigen index were independent predictors of successful LP .
Success of RT depends on killing all clonogenic cells that increases linearly with tumor
volume (TV). Lesions are classified as T3 or T4 despite a wide variation in TV if one were
to perform volumetric analysis for all. TV is one of the most precise and most relevant
predictors of RT outcome. This inverse relationship may be explained on the basis of hypoxia
due to central tumor necrosis that is detrimental for CT as well as RT. Cartilage invasion,
soft tissue extension, volume, extensive nodal involvement, pre epiglottic space invasion,
paraglottic space invasion and arytenoids infiltration are some of the radiological
parameters that can predict poor outcome to RT.

Recent studies show adjuvant concurrent chemoradiation to the emerging standard of care for
high risk tumors providing an estimated five year progression free survival benefit of 11%
in advanced stage III and IV tumors or even early stage tumors with extranodal spread,
positive resection margins, perineural involvement or vascular embolization. A similar
study by RTOG showed an estimated 10% improvement in two year locoregional control in high
risk tumors with multiple lymphnodal involvement, extranodal spread and positive resection

To sum up, CT+RT has the advantages of potential radiosensitization by chemotherapy induced
cell cycle redistribution, overcoming radio-resistance within the field of RT, targeting
different subpopulation of cells leading to more kill, reduction or delay in distant
metastases. Its disadvantages are increased expense, enhanced toxicity and need of good
interdisciplinary integration. What needs to be appreciated is the fact that CT+RT has never
been evaluated against the standard treatment of TL + PORT. Although the quality of life
has been reported to be better after laryngeal preservation, speech rehabilitation has
improved steadily over past decade. Time seems to be ripe now to compare LP with CT+RT with
TL+PORT and speech rehabilitation with locoregional control and quality of life as endpoint.


Study type: Prospective randomized controlled trial with 900 patients (450 in each arm).
Trial size calculated for 392 events with expected improvement of base line survival of 42%
by 10% (alpha error of 0.05 and power of 80).


Arm 1: Radiation Therapy+ CDDP

Arm 2: Surgery + Post operative RT(+ CDDP for high risk cases)

Arms 1 and 2: Cisplatin (CDDP) 100 mg/m2 over 20-30 minutes on days 1, 22, and 43. In arm 2
Cisplatin (CDDP)100 mg/m2 will be given to patients with multiple lymphnodal involvement,
extranodal spread, positive resection margins, perineural involvement or vascular

Surgery: Near total/Total Laryngectomy with bilateral neck dissection with primary speech
rehabilitation either by myo-mucosal shunt (NTL) or by primary tracheo-esophageal puncture.

Inclusion Criteria:

- Patients with biopsy-proven, previously untreated, T3/T4 tumors (with focal
cartilage erosion on computed tomography [CT] scan); squamous cell carcinoma of
larynx and hypopharynx.

- Patients with Karnofsky Performance Scale (KPS) > 80

- Patients must have resectable tumors which are potentially curable with conventional
surgery and radiation therapy.

- Willing to participate in trial and get randomized

Exclusion Criteria:

- Gross cartilage invasion

- Extensive soft tissue infiltration

- Large nodal disease

- Distant metastases

- Synchronous primary

Type of Study:


Study Design:

Allocation: Randomized, Intervention Model: Parallel Assignment, Masking: Open Label, Primary Purpose: Treatment

Outcome Measure:

Overall survival at 3 and 5 years

Outcome Time Frame:


Safety Issue:


Principal Investigator

Prathamesh S Pai, MS,DNB,DORL

Investigator Role:

Principal Investigator

Investigator Affiliation:

Tata Memorial Hospital


India: Department of Atomic Energy

Study ID:




Start Date:

May 2005

Completion Date:

May 2015

Related Keywords:

  • Larynx Neoplasms
  • neoplasm
  • larynx
  • surgery
  • radiotherapy
  • chemotherapy
  • Neoplasms
  • Laryngeal Neoplasms
  • Hypopharyngeal Neoplasms