The NARLAL2 dose escalation trial: dosimetric implications of inter-fractional changes in organs at risk

Lone Hoffmann, Marianne Marquard Knap, Azza Ahmed Khalil, Christina Maria Lutz, Ditte Sloth Møller

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Background: Phase II trials suggested that survival rates for locally advanced lung cancer could be increased by radiotherapy dose escalation. However, results of the phase III RTOG 0617 trial illustrated an imminent risk of treatment-related death. This could be thwarted with strict constraints to organs at risk (OARs) and control of the delivered dose. This study investigates the impact of anatomical changes during radiotherapy on escalated dose distributions used in the Danish NARLAL2 dose escalation trial. Material and methods: The phase III NARLAL2 trial randomizes patients between a standard and an escalated treatment plan. In the escalated arm, mean doses up to 95 Gy/33 fractions (tumour) and 74 Gy/33 fractions (lymph nodes) are delivered to the most 18fluorodeoxyglucose-positron emission tomography (18FDG PET) active regions. The dose distributions are limited by strict constraints to OARs. For a group of 27 patients, a surveillance scan (sCT) was acquired at fraction 11. The original-escalated treatment plans were recalculated on the sCTs and the impact of inter-fractional changes evaluated. Results: A total of 13 patients (48%) had overdosage of least one OAR. Constraints for the oesophagus, trachea and aorta were violated in 26% of the patients. No overdosage was seen for heart or bronchi. For the connective tissue (all tissue in the mediastinum not identified as OAR or tumour) overdosage was seen in 41% of the patients and for the chest wall in 30% of the patients. The main reason for overdosage was tumour shrinkage. Conclusions: Anatomical changes during radiotherapy caused one or more OAR constraint violations for approximately half of the patient cohort. The main cause was tumour shrinkage. For lung cancer radiotherapy dose escalation trials, we recommend incorporation of adaptive radiotherapy strategies.

Original languageEnglish
JournalActa Oncologica
Pages (from-to)473-479
Number of pages7
Publication statusPublished - 2018


  • Journal Article


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