Showing posts with label SBRT. Show all posts
Showing posts with label SBRT. Show all posts

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

SABR to oligometastases slows progression via immune response

Stereotactic Ablative Body Radiation (SABR, or sometimes, SBRT) significantly slowed metastatic progression in men with 3 or fewer metastases (oligometastatic). SABR is a form of concentrated radiation accomplished in 1-5 treatments.

The ORIOLE trial has been previously described in detail here. To recap, it was a small (Phase 2) randomized trial with 36 men treated with SABR to bone scan/CT-detected oligometastases. There were 18 men in the untreated control group. The men were followed for 6 months to see if there was any progression of their cancer. Progression was defined as either PSA progression or new metastases detected on bone scan/CT or physical symptoms of decline (e.g., pain). Of course, with only 6 months of follow-up, most of the detected progression was PSA progression. Phuoc Tran, the lead investigator of the ORIOLE trial, reported the 6-month results here:
  • Progression-free survival (PFS) was 81% in the SABR group vs 39% in the control group.
  • Median PFS was not yet reached in the SABR group vs 5.8 months in the control group.
  • The time to progression was increased by 70% by the treatment.
  • Progression has not been reached among those treated patients followed for over a year.
Although patients were only treated for metastases discovered on a bone scan/CT, they were also given a PSMA-based PET scan (DCFPyL). Those in whom no additional metastases were discovered by the PET scan fared better:
  • PFS was 84% in the fully treated group vs 36% in those with undiscovered metastases.
  • Median PFS was not reached in the fully-treated group vs 11.8 months in those with undiscovered metastases.
  • Distant metastasis-free survival (i.e., metastases distant from the ones that were treated) was 29 months in the fully-treated group vs 6 months in those with undiscovered metastases.
PFS in men in whom there were any untreated metastases was not improved compared to untreated men. This seems to be an all-or-nothing sort of thing.

SBRT has been found in lab studies to elicit a strong immune response. It releases cancer antigens into the bloodstream that are detected by T-cells, which become activated to find more cancer. That T cell response to radiation is thought to contribute to its effectiveness (called "the abscopal effect"). The investigators tracked the T cell response and found a significant response in the SABR-treated men.

Progression-free survival when most of the progression is PSA progression is not the endpoint we need to evaluate this therapy. SABR "treats" PSA. "Treating PSA" would occur if the radiation only provides excellent local control, while not necessarily delaying progression elsewhere. PSA is secreted in proportion to the size of the tumors, so treating only the tumors will do nothing to stop the micrometastases that are elsewhere. However, the strong T-cell response found by this study suggests that there may be a true delay in progression and not only a delay in PSA. Also, the fact that distant metastases were delayed by almost 2 years among those who had all of their PSMA-detected metastases irradiated, suggests a true response.

This is an important first step toward discovering whether oligometastasis-directed therapy provides a benefit, and how it works. It does not yet provide the answer to whether there is a survival benefit to such therapy. It also does not answer the question of whether ADT can be delayed when radiation has been given. There are several, larger clinical trials that will answer those questions more definitively. Meanwhile, the patient with rising PSA after prostate therapy should consider:
  1. A PSMA-based PET scan (available in some clinical trials, and probably widely available within a year).
  2. Talking to a radiation oncologist about SABR treatment of metastases if all discovered metastases are in places where it is entirely safe to treat them
  3. Not forgoing ADT adjuvant to SABR treatment until there is more proof.

Saturday, February 16, 2019

SBRT has non-inferior acute and late-term toxicity vs IMRT in two randomized clinical trials

In October 2018, the American Society of Radiation Oncologists (ASTRO) strongly endorsed moderately hypofractionated IMRT (20/28 treatments) for primary radiation treatment (see this link). Since then, there has been another publication of a randomized clinical trial with ten years of follow-up (see this link).

The advantages for the patient are large: fewer visits than the conventional 38-44 treatments with a concomitant reduction in costs. Because there is now convincing proof that this can be accomplished without an increase in side effects and without loss of oncological effectiveness, there is no reason why any patient would suffer through the conventional regimen. The remaining question is whether the number of treatments (or fractions) can be reduced even further to only about 4 or 5. This kind of extreme hypofractionation is called stereotactic body radiation therapy or SBRT. This requires proof.

We have seen the results of a Scandinavian randomized clinical trial (RCT) that found that urinary, rectal, and sexual side effects were not inferior with extreme hypofractionation (see this link), and the oncological outcomes were about the same too (see this link).

Now two more RCTs have shown that the toxicity of SBRT is no worse than and possibly better than moderately hypofractionated or conventionally fractionated IMRT.

Van As et al. reported the acute toxicity results of the PACE-B RCT in the UK at the Genitourinary Conference of ASCO. 844 men with favorable risk prostate cancer were randomized to get SBRT (414 men) or conventionally fractionated/moderately hypofractionated  IMRT - "CFMHRT" (430 men). The qualifications were:

  • localized, favorable risk prostate cancer (Gleason score ≤ 3+4, Stage T1 or T2, PSA ≤ 20 ng/ml)
  • unsuitable for surgery or preferring radiation

The two groups were similar. The treatments were:

  • SBRT: 36.25 Gy in 5 fractions over 1-2 weeks
  • CFMHRT: 78 Gy in 39 fractions (conventional) or 62 Gy in 20 fractions (moderately hypofractionated)
  • ADT was not permitted

At 12 weeks post treatment, acute grade 2 or higher toxicity was:

  • rectal: 10% for SBRT vs 12% for CFMHRT - difference was not statistically significant
  • urinary: 23% for SBRT vs 27% for CFMRT - difference was not statistically significant

Poon et al. reported the one year late-term toxicity results of a RCT in Hong Kong. 64 low- and intermediate-risk patients were randomized to get SBRT (31 patients) or conventionally fractionated IMRT - "CFIMRT" (33 patients). The qualifications were: Stage T1 or T2, Gleason score ≤ 7, and PSA < 20 ng/ml.

The treatments were:

  • SBRT: 36.25 Gy in 5 fractions over 2 weeks
  • IMRT: 76 Gy in 38 fractions
  • Intermediate risk patients could optionally have ADT before their radiation.

at 1 year post treatment:

  • one grade 3 (serious) urinary side effect was reported in each arm
  • rectal grade 1 (mild) or higher: 64% for SBRT vs 84% for CFIMRT - significantly different
  • urinary grade 1 (mild) or higher: 93% for SBRT vs 100% for CFIMRT - not significantly different


It is too early to assess if there are any differences in oncological outcomes in these two RCTs.




Monday, January 7, 2019

SBRT: Optimal Dose

While excellent outcomes of stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT) have been reported since it was first used for prostate cancer in 2003, the delivered doses have ranged from 35 Gy in 5 treatments to 40 Gy in 5 treatments. We saw in a University of Texas Southwest (UTSW) study (see this link) that toxicity escalates when doses are greater than 45 Gy.

Memorial Sloan Kettering designed a clinical trial (described here) among low and intermediate-risk men. They started with about 35 men treated at 32.5 Gy and checked for dose-limiting toxicity. When most reached 6 months of follow-up, and fewer than 10% had dose-limiting toxicity, they increased the dose to the next group of 35 men by 2.5 Gy in 5 treatments. In all, they had 136 patients who were followed up for 5.9 yrs, 5.4 yrs, 4.1 yrs and 3.5 yrs with doses of 32.5 Gy, 35 Gy, and 37.5 Gy and 40 Gy, respectively.

Their toxicity and oncological outcomes are reported here and shown in the table below:



Dose delivered in 5 treatments

32.5 Gy
35.0 Gy
37.5 Gy
40.0 Gy
Acute toxicity




Urinary – grade 2
16.7%
22.9%
8.3%
17.1%
Rectal – grade 2
0%
2.9%
2.8%
11.4%
Late-term toxicity




Urinary – grade 2
23.3%
25.7%
27.8%
31.4% (1 grade 3 stricture)
Rectal – grade 2
0%
0%
0%
0%
Oncological outcomes




5-year PSA failure
15%
6%
0%
0%
2-year positive biopsy
47.6%
19.2%
16.7%
7.7%

Other than the one urinary stricture, there were no acute or late-term grade 3 (serious) toxicities.

Because follow-up decreased with increasing dose, it is unclear whether the zero biochemical failure rates for doses of 37.5 Gy and 40 Gy will be sustained, but in other studies, almost all SBRT failures had occurred within 5 years. The positive biopsy rates will probably continue to decline with longer follow-up because the non-viable cancer cells can take up to 5 years to clear out. Clearly, 32.5 Gy is too low because of its unacceptable oncological results.

A dose of 40 Gy in 5 treatments has very acceptable toxicity and excellent cancer control. It would be reasonable to use doses as low as 37.5 Gy in patients with insignificant amounts of low grade cancer (who would usually be excellent candidates for active surveillance). Based on the UTSW study, it would be reasonable to escalate the dose as high as 45 Gy in patients judged to have radioresistant cancers.


Wednesday, October 24, 2018

SBRT has excellent outcomes for intermediate risk patients

Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy (SBRT, or sometimes SABR or SHARP or CyberKnife) has had excellent 7-year outcomes in an update of the consortium study. Amar Kishan presented the results of his analysis at the ASTRO meeting today.

The consortium consisted of

1 Department of Radiation Oncology, University of California, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA, USA
2 Department of Urology, University of California, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA, USA
3 Flushing Radiation Oncology Services, Flushing, NY, USA
4 21st Century Oncology, Fort Myers, FL, USA
5 Department of Radiation Oncology, Georgetown University, Washington, DC., USA
6 Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA
7 Division of Genesis Healthcare Partners Inc., CyberKnife Centers of San Diego Inc., San Diego, CA, USA
8 Swedish Radiosurgery Center, Seattle, WA, USA.
9 Department of Radiation Oncology, Odette Cancer Centre, Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, Toronto, ON,
Canada.
10 Section of Radiation Oncology, Virginia Mason Medical Center, Seattle, WA, USA
11 Department of Radiation Oncology, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, CA, USA
12 Department of Radiation Oncology, University of Michigan
13 Scripps Health, 11025 North Torrey Pines Road, La Jolla, CA, USA
14 Virginia Hospital Center, 1701 N. George Mason Dr, Arlington, VA, USA

The meta-analysis covers 2,142 low (n=1,185) and intermediate-risk men treated with SBRT between 2003 and 2012. Intermediate risk men were further subdivided into "favorable intermediate risk" (n=692) and "unfavorable intermediate risk" (n=265) per the NCCN definition.

After a median follow-up of 6.9 years, the 7-year biochemical recurrence-free survival was:

  • low risk: 95.5%
  • favorable intermediate risk: 91.4%
  • unfavorable intermediate risk: 85.1%
  • all intermediate risk: 89.8%

Low risk patients and some of the favorable intermediate risk patients would probably be diverted to active surveillance today. The 7-year intermediate risk biochemical recurrence-free survival compares favorably with (note: this is not a randomized comparison, which is the only valid way of comparing):

  • Surgery: favorable intermediate risk (PSA=6.0, T1c, GS 3+4, 33% cancerous cores): 81% (mean of 5 and 10-yr Progression-free survival) (1)
  • Surgery: unfavorable intermediate risk (PSA=6.0, T1c, GS 4+3, 67% cancerous cores): 53% (mean of 5 and 10-yr Progression-free survival) (1)
  • Hypofractionated IMRT (5 year):  85% (2)
  • Conventional IMRT (5 year): 85% (2)
  • Low dose rate brachytherapy: favorable intermediate risk (avg of 5 and 10-yr): 87% (3)
  • Low dose rate brachytherapy: unfavorable intermediate risk (5-year): 81% (3)
  • Brachy boost therapy: unfavorable intermediate risk (10 year): 92% (4)

7-year metastasis-free survival was:

  • low risk: 99.9%
  • favorable intermediate risk: 98.3%
  • unfavorable intermediate risk: 97.0%
  • all intermediate risk: 98.0%

There were no prostate cancer-related deaths.

Use of ADT and higher doses (doses ranged from 33 Gy to 40 Gy in 4 or 5 treatments) did not affect recurrence.

Acute (within 3 months of treatment) toxicity was low:

  • Urinary toxicity Grade 2: 8.8% Grade 3: 0.6%
  • Rectal toxicity Grade 2: 3.2% Grade 3: 0.1%

Late-term cumulative toxicity was low:

  • Urinary toxicity Grade 2: 9.4% Grade 3+: 2.1%
  • Rectal toxicity Grade 2: 3.9% Grade 3+: 0.4%


Late-term grade 3 or greater urinary toxicity of 2.1% compares favorably to other radiation monotherapies reported in other studies. For example:

  • Low dose rate brachytherapy: 7.6% (5)
  • High dose rate brachytherapy (3 fractions):11% (6)
  • Hypofractionated IMRT (70 Gy/28 fx): 3.5% (7)
  • Conventionally fractionated IMRT: 2.3% (7)
  • Brachy boost therapy: 19% (8)


Late-term grade 3 or greater rectal toxicity of 0.4% compares favorably to other radiation monotherapies reported in other studies. For example:

  • Low dose rate brachytherapy: 0.8% (5)
  • High dose rate brachytherapy (3 fractions):1% (6)
  • Hypofractionated IMRT (70 Gy/28 fx): 4.1% (7)
  • Conventionally IMRT: 2.6% (7)
  • Brachy boost therapy: 9% (8)

This 7-year analysis on a large group of patients from multiple sites, should make intermediate risk patients comfortable in choosing SBRT, especially if they are favorable intermediate risk. For patients who are unfavorable intermediate risk, brachy boost therapy affords incomparable oncological control, but at the risk of much higher late term urinary and rectal toxicity.



Friday, October 12, 2018

ASTRO, ASCO, & AUA strongly endorse a shortened course of IMRT for primary therapy

It will come as no surprise to my readers that moderately hypofractionated IMRT (first-line radiation delivered in 20-26 treatments or fractions instead of the conventional 40-44 fractions) received strong endorsement from all of the major US organizations of physicians who treat prostate cancer. The American Society for Radiation Oncology (ASTRO), in collaboration with the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) and the American Urological Association (AUA) issued the new guidelines, which are also supported by the Society of Urologic Oncology (SUO), European Society for Radiotherapy & Oncology (ESTRO), and Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Radiologists.

A hypofractionation task force issued the new evidence-based guidelines. They divided their guidelines into two parts: (1) moderately hypofractionated IMRT (20-26 fractions); (2) ultrahypofractionated IMRT (4-5 fractions), usually called SBRT, SABR, SHARP, or CyberKnife (I will refer to it as SBRT). They strongly support moderate hypofractionation. They conditionally support SBRT, because of the moderate degree of evidence published by their cut-off date of March 31, 2017. They may revisit those guidelines after further review.

The following guidelines were strongly endorsed based on high quality evidence with strong consensus:

1A: Low risk men who refuse active surveillance should be offered moderately hypofractionated IMRT.

1B: Intermediate risk men should be offered moderately hypofractionated IMRT.

1C: High risk men should be offered moderately hypofractionated IMRT.

1D: Moderate hypofractionation should be offered regardless of patient age, comorbidity, anatomy, or urinary function. However, physicians should discuss the limited follow-up beyond five years for most existing RCTs evaluating moderate hypofractionation. *

1E: Men should be counseled about the small increased risk of acute gastrointestinal (GI) toxicity with moderate hypofractionation. Moderately hypofractionated EBRT has a similar risk of acute and late genitourinary (GU) and late GI toxicity compared to conventionally fractionated EBRT. However, physicians should discuss the limited follow-up beyond five years for most existing RCTs evaluating moderate hypofractionation.*

The following guidelines were strongly endorsed based on moderate quality evidence with strong consensus:

7A: Image guidance (e.g., fiducials, transponders, cone beam CT, etc.) should be used for both moderate hypofractionation and SBRT.†

8A: 3D-CRT should not be used with hypofractionation.§

The following guidelines were conditionally endorsed based on moderate quality evidence with strong consensus:

2A: 60 Gy in 20 fractions or 70 Gy in 28 fractions are suggested for moderate hypofractionation.

2B: No variation in treatment regimen by patient age, comorbidity, anatomy, or urinary function.

3A: Low risk men who refuse active surveillance should be offered SBRT

4A: The SBRT dose for low and intermediate risk men should be 35 Gy - 36.25 Gy in 5 fractions.**

4B: SBRT doses of 36.25 Gy in 5 fractions should not be exceeded outside of a clinical trial or registry.**

5A: At least two dose-volume constraint points for rectum and bladder should be used for moderate hypofractionation or SBRT: one at the high-dose end (near the total dose prescribed) and one in the mid-dose range (near the midpoint of the total dose).


The following guidelines were conditionally endorsed based on low quality evidence with strong consensus:

3B: Intermediate risk men should be offered SBRT, but should be encouraged to do so in a clinical trial or registry.**

3C: High risk men should be not be offered SBRT outside of a clinical trial or registry.

4C: Daily SBRT treatment is not recommended due to increased risk of toxicity.

5B: Normal dose/volume constraints used in the reference study should be adhered to for both moderate hypofractionation and SBRT


The following guideline was strongly endorsed based on low quality evidence with strong consensus:

6A: Planned target volume definition of the reference study should be adhered to for both moderately hypofractionated IMRT and SBRT.††


* While most of the hypofractionation trials did not report beyond 5 years of follow-up (see Table at this link), some did. The Archangeli et al. trial reported survival outcomes out to ten years. (I believe the guideline authors erred about this.) M.D. Anderson published an eight-year update after the close of the task force review. As we saw in our review of RTOG 0126, survival does not become a useful endpoint for perhaps 15-20 years for men with localized prostate cancer, and surrogate endpoints, such as 5-year recurrence-free survival or metastasis-free survival must be used instead. Kishan et al. proposed that for ultrahypofractionated regimens, 3-year PSA may be an excellent surrogate endpoint. The ProtecT clinical trial showed that adverse effects of radiation almost always show up in the first two years.

† For the disaster that can ensue when fiducials are not used with SBRT, see this link. The guidelines should state that intra-fractional motion tracking should be used with SBRT.

§ In the recently presented (not published in time for these guidelines) randomized clinical trial of ulrahypofractionated RT vs conventionally fractionated RT, they did use 3D-CRT in both arms. There was no difference in 5-year biochemical recurrence-free survival or 6-year toxicity.

** In a large, multi-institutional clinical trial (too late to make it into these guidelines), Meier et al. reported excellent 5-year oncological and toxicity outcomes using 40 Gy in 5 fractions. In SBRT dose escalation trials, both Zimmerman at UT Southwestern (reported here) and Zelefsky at MSKCC (I've heard from his patients) found that 45 Gy in 5 fractions gave excellent oncological and toxicity outcomes. The task force neglected the fact that prescribed doses are reported differently by different ROs. Alan Katz, for example, reports a prescribed dose of 35 Gy to the planned target volume (the prostate plus the margin around it), but the clinical target volume (the prostate itself) gets about 38 Gy, while the margin gets considerably less.

†† Smaller margins are possible when fiducials are used for intra-fractional tracking. Tighter margins cause less toxicity to organs at risk.

Sadly, the effect of hypofractionation on erectile function was seldom reported and was not part of the task force's analysis.

It is worth noting that conventionally fractionated IMRT became the standard of care without any comparative clinical trials. The longest running single institution dose-escalated IMRT trial (at MSKCC) had 10 years of follow-up on a small sample size (n=170). By contrast, Alan Katz is expected to report 10-year SBRT outcomes this year on 515 patients. The task force is holding SBRT to a higher standard that by this time next year, it should have the published results to meet.

While the task force endorsed moderate hypofractionation, we will have to see whether radiation oncologists (ROs) follow their guidelines. Because ROs are reimbursed by the number of fractions they give, they will be understandably reluctant to reduce the number of fractions. It remains to be seen whether insurance companies will enforce a limit. It is a clear benefit to the patient in terms of convenience and cost.

Monday, April 30, 2018

First randomized clinical trial of SBRT

In the first trial ever to randomly assign patients to extreme hypofractionation, primary radiation therapy delivered in just 7 treatments had the same effectiveness and safety as 39 treatments.

The results of the HYPO-RT-PC randomized clinical trial were published in The Lancet. There was an earlier report on toxicity. Details of the trial specs are available here. Between 2005 and 2015, they enrolled 1200 intermediate- and high-risk patients at 12 centers in Sweden and Denmark to receive either:
  1. Conventional fractionation: 78 Gy in 39 fractions
  2. SBRT (stereotactic body radiation therapy): 42.7 Gy in 7 fractions
The biologically effective dose is 19% higher for SBRT in terms of cancer control. The biologically effective doses are equivalent in terms of toxicity.

The patients were all intermediate (89%) to high risk (11%), defined as:
  1. Stage T1c-T3a
  2. PSA> 10 ng/ml 
  3. Gleason score ≥7
80% of the men were treated with a technology called three-dimensional conformal radiation therapy (3D-CRT), which is seldom used for prostate cancer external beam therapy anymore at major tertiary care centers. It is never used for SBRT in the US because it is considered not precise enough, and too toxic. SBRT is usually delivered in 4 or 5 fractions in the US. CyberKnife and VMAT are the most common technologies in use, and use of sophisticated image guidance throughout each treatment is a common practice.

With follow-up of 1,180 patients for 5 years, they report biochemical recurrence-free survival of 84% in both arms of the study.

They also reported updated late-toxicity results. By 5 years after treatment:
  • Grade 2+ urinary toxicity was 5% for conventional fractionation, 5% for SBRT - no significant difference.
  • Grade 2+ rectal toxicity was 4% for conventional fractionation, 1% for SBRT - no significant difference.
Up until now, we've only had reports from clinical trials using SBRT (like this one) or conventional fractionation (like this one), and it could have been reasonably argued that SBRT results looked good because of selection bias. With this study, we now have Level 1 evidence of non-inferiority. This will not be surprising to those of us who have followed the randomized clinical trials of moderately hypofractionation vs. conventional fractionation (see this link). This will be hailed as a victory for patients who no longer have to endure and pay the high cost of 8 weeks of treatments. radiation oncologists, who are reimbursed by the number of treatments they deliver, probably will not be as thrilled.

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Erectile Function after SBRT

Erectile function after radiation is of great interest to many men trying to decide between surgery and radiation, and to decide among the several radiation treatment options. Dess et al. reported the outcomes of men who received stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT), often known by the brand name CyberKnife.

Between 2008 and 2013, 273 patients with localized prostate cancer were treated at Georgetown University. All patients filled out the EPIC questionnaire at baseline, which includes several questions on erectile function. The authors focused on the question asking whether erections were firm enough for intercourse, irrespective of whether they used ED meds. A similar questionnaire, SHIM, was also used, but results were similar. Answers were tracked over time with analyses at 2 years and at 5 years. Importantly, the median age at baseline was 69 years. At 2 years:
  • About half the men had functional erections at baseline
  • Among those with functional erections at baseline, 57% retained potency
  • The largest loss occurred by 3 months after treatment, with about 2/3 retaining potency at 3 months
  • 2/3 retained potency at 3 months regardless of age
  • Men under 65 suffered no further loss of potency, even after 5 years
  • Men 65 and over continued to lose potency
    • About half retained potency at 2 years
    • About 40% retained potency at 5 years
The authors also looked at other causes of erectile dysfunction, including partner status, BMI, diabetes, cardiovascular disease,  depression, baseline testosterone levels, and baseline use of ED meds. None of those, except BMI, had a statistically significant effect in this patient population at 2 years post treatment.  Some gained importance by 5 years, but because they are age dependent, and also affect baseline ED, none except BMI were independently important after baseline function and age were accounted for. A few known risk factors for ED were not included: medications (e.g., beta blockers, testosterone supplementation, etc.), smoking, and substance abuse. Some of that data was collected and may be included in a subsequent analysis.

There is a source of statistical error called colinearity, which arises when 2 variables, like baseline potency and age, are substantially interlinked. Although they were independently associated with erectile function, there is considerable overlap, especially when patient age was over the median (69). It may be useful to separate the effect of one from the other. This is accomplished by using age-adjusted baseline erectile function in the same way that economists look at inflation-adjusted GNP. I hope the authors will look at this. As we saw, an analysis of brachytherapy utilizing a different technique showed that half of the loss of potency among men who had brachytherapy was due to aging.

The effect of age on potency preservation cannot be overemphasized. Undoubtedly, radiation can cause fibrosis in the penile artery, and fibrosis is worse in older men. But, contrary to a prevalent myth, those radiation effects occur very early. Following that early decline, the declines in potency are primarily attributable to the normal effects of aging (which include occlusion of the vasculature supplying the penis.) As we've seen in other studies, most of the radiation-induced ED will show up within the first two years, and probably within 9 months of treatment. This was shown for 3D-CRT in the  ProtecT clinical trial,  for brachytherapy, for SBRT, and for EBRT.

Looking at other reports of potency preservation following SBRT, the Georgetown experience (57% potency preservation) seems to be on the low end. There has only been one report of lower potency preservation: 40% at 3 years among 32 patients. An earlier report from Georgetown reported 2-year potency preservation at 79% at 24 months. Dr. Dess explained that the earlier report included men with lower potency at baseline. However, because baseline potency is highly associated with post-treatment potency, the outcomes should be in the other direction. The discrepant data are puzzling. At 38 months post treatment, Bernetich et al. reported potency preservation in 94% among 48 treated patients. Friedland et al.  reported 2-year potency preservation at 82%. Katz reported potency preservation of 87% at 18 months. Although, different patient groups may respond differently, it is difficult to understand why potency preservation was so much lower in the current study. These discrepancies argue for a more standardized approach to analyzing erectile function after treatment, and the present study makes a good start towards that goal.

Compared to other radiation therapies, SBRT fares well. Evans et al. looked at SBRT at Georgetown and two 21st Century Oncology locations and compared it to low dose rate brachytherapy (LDR-BT) and IMRT as reported in the PROSTQA study. At 2 years, among patients who had good sexual function at baseline, EPIC scores declined by 14 points for SBRT, 21 points for IMRT, and 24 points for LDR-BT( the minimum clinically detectable change on that measure is 10-12 points). There has been only one randomized trial comparing extreme hypofractionation to moderate hypofractionation. In that Scandinavian trial, they used an older technique called 3D-CRT, which would never be used today to deliver extreme hypofractionation (at least I hope not!). In spite of the outmoded technology, sexual side effects of of the two treatments were not different. In an analysis from Johnson et al. comparing SBRT and hypofractionated IMRT, the percent of patients reporting minimally detectable differences in sexual function scores was statistically indistinguishable in spite of the SBRT patients being 5 years older.

Dess et al. also looked at sexual aid utilization in a separate study on the effect of SBRT. They found:

  • 37% were already using sexual aids at baseline
  • 51% were using sexual aids at 2 years
  • 55% were using sexual aids at 5 years
  • 89% of users say they were helped by them at baseline, 2 years and 5 years
  • 86% used PDE5 inhibitors only (i.e., Viagra, Cialis, Levitra or Stendra)
  • 14% combined a PDE5 inhibitor with other sexual aids (e.g., Trimix, MUSE, or a vacuum pump)

Erectile function is well-preserved following SBRT, and seems to be as good or better than after IMRT, moderately hypofractionated IMRT, or LDR brachytherapy. Based on reports of a protective effect of a PDE5 inhibitor, patients should discuss their use with their radiation oncologist starting 3 days before radiation and continuing for 6 months after. High levels of exercise and frequent masturbation may have protective effects as well.

With thanks to Daniel Spratt and Robert Dess for allowing me to see the full texts of their studies

Monday, December 4, 2017

Questions to ask an SBRT doctor

SBRT doctor questions
1.     How many have you performed?
2.    How has your practice of SBRT changed over the years?
3.    What is your 5-yr freedom from recurrence rate for patients at my risk level? What proportion of your recurrences were local-only?
4.    What kind of urinary and rectal reactions can I expect? How long can I expect them to last? What medications or interventions do you typically give for that? Should I expect those symptoms to recur later?
5.     What is your rate of serious (Grade 3) adverse events? Do you see urinary strictures? Urinary retention requiring catheterization? Fistulas? Rectal bleeding requiring argon plasma or other interventions?
6.    What is the margin you will treat around the prostate? Is it less on the rectal side?
7.     What is the prescribed dose to the planned target volume?
8.    Do you work off a fused MRI/CT scan?
9.    What machine do you use (e.g., VMAT, CyberKnife, step-and-shoot, Tomotherapy, etc.)?
·      If CyberKnife: Do you use the IRIS or a new multileaf collimator?
·      Do you set a limit on “hot spots”?
10.  Do you use fiducials or Calypso transponders? Do you do transperineal placement of them?
o   What system do you use for inter-fractional tracking?
o   What system do you use for intra-fractional tracking?
11.   In my treatment plan, what do you identify as “organs at risk” and what dose constraints do you put on them?
o   What dose will my penile bulb receive?
12.  How long does each treatment take?
13.  How will I be immobilized during each treatment?
14.  Are there any bowel prep or dietary requirements?
15.  Should I avoid taking antioxidant supplements during treatment?
16.  In your practice, among men who were fully potent, what percent remained fully potent 3-5 years later?
o   Have any men retained some ability to produce semen?
o   What is your opinion of taking Viagra preventatively?
17.  Do you monitor side effects with the EPIC questionnaire?
o   In your practice, what percent of men experience acute urinary side effects?
o   In your practice, what percent of men experience acute rectal side effects?
o   In your practice, what percent of men experience late term urinary side effects?
o   In your practice, what percent of men experience late term rectal side effects?
18.  What kind of PSA pattern should I expect following treatment?
19.  What is the median PSA nadir you are seeing in your practice, and how long does it take to reach that, on the average?
20. In your practice, what percent of men experience biochemical recurrence?
o   What % of those have been local?
o   If there should be a biochemical (PSA) recurrence, what would the next steps be?
o   Have you ever used SBRT, brachy, or cryo for salvage after a local SBRT failure, and was that focal or whole gland?
21.  Are you open to email communications between us?