Showing posts with label adjuvant radiation. Show all posts
Showing posts with label adjuvant radiation. Show all posts

Sunday, September 29, 2019

"Adjuvant" similar to "Early Salvage" Radiation Outcome in Meta-analysis

Although at least three randomized clinical trials have told us that adjuvant radiation after prostatectomy often affords better results than just taking a "wait-and-see" approach, most radiation oncologists have been reluctant to immediately treat every man with poor post-prostatectomy pathology results (positive margins, stage T3/4, high Gleason score).  Now, some early combined results (called a meta-analysis) of three more randomized clinical trials suggest that oncological outcomes may be no worse if men wait to be treated until certain PSA cut-offs are reached.

The three randomized clinical trials were RADICALS-RT (UK & Canada), GETUG-AFU-17 (France), and RAVES (Australia & NZ). The meta-analysis, called "ARTISTIC" (critique here). comprised 2151 men, of whom 1074 were randomized to adjuvant radiation and 1077 were randomized to early salvage radiation. There have been 5 years of follow-up so far. ARTISTIC analyzed the early data based on "event-free survival," which for the most part meant freedom from a PSA-defined recurrence after radiation.

"Adjuvant" radiation (ART) was defined by all three trials as treatment within 6 months of prostatectomy. Note that this can be longer than the "immediate" treatment often given.

"Early salvage" radiation (eSRT) was defined variously as treatment when PSA ≥ 0.1ng/ml or 3 consecutive rises (RADICALS-RT), PSA≥0.2 ng/ml and rising (GETUG-AFU-17), or PSA≥0.2 ng/ml (RAVES).

Patients in all three trials had positive surgical margins, extracapsular extension, or penetration into the seminal vesicles. Most patients were intermediate risk:

  • Most (77%) had a Gleason score of 7
  • Very few (9-17%) had a Gleason score of 8-10
  • About 1 in 5 had seminal vesicle invasion


After 5 years of median follow-up:

  • Event-free (mostly PSA) survival was about the same for ART and eSRT (HR=1.1, p=0.47)


In addition, there were some top-line results presented for the largest study, RADICALS-RT:

  • At 5 years, biochemical progression-free survival was 85% for ART and 88% for eSRT (p=0.56, not statistically different)
  • Urinary incontinence at one year was 5.3% for ART vs 2.7% for eSRT (p=0.008, statistically different)
  • Serious or life-threatening urethral stricture was 8% for ART vs 5% for eSRT (p=0.03, statistically different)


Pelvic lymph nodes

If pelvic lymph node dissection during prostatectomy revealed any positive nodes, or if scans suggest enlarged, cancerous pelvic lymph nodes, there is no question that adjuvant radiation is required. RTOG 0534 showed that salvage radiation of pelvic lymph nodes with adjuvant ADT increase progression-free survival even when there were no detected cancerous lymph nodes, but only if PSA was high enough.

It is never worth waiting for PSA to rise to a point where newer PET scans can detect metastases just to find out where the largest sites of recurrence are. That would be a self-fulfilling prophesy - the goal is curative treatment before the cancer has time to metastasize. A/SRT must be given to the prostate bed, and possibly an extended pelvic lymph node field. The patient must treat what is still too small to see.

Adjuvant ADT

Other arms of RADICALS, not yet reported, explored the effect of various durations of adjuvant hormone therapy. GETUG-AFU-16 proved that adding at least 6 months of ADT improved results of SRT. RTOG 0534 also showed that adding ADT to SRT was often beneficial. But RTOG 9601 showed that adjuvant ADT did not improve results when postprostatectomy PSA was below 0.7 ng/ml. A recent analysis by Spratt et al. suggested that adjuvant ADT is always necessary when PSA ≥ 1.5 ng/ml, but that risks may outweigh benefits when PSA is lower than 0.6 ng/ml.

Radiation Dose

GETUG-AFU-17 and RADICALS-RT used a radiation dose of 66 Gy in 33 treatments. RADICALS-RT also allowed a moderately hypofractionated dose (52.2 Gy in 20 treatments). RAVES used a slightly lower dose: 64 Gy in 32 treatments. A recent analysis by Chris King suggested that these doses may be inadequate, or that a higher dose may not require adjuvant ADT. The effect of the higher dose on toxicity using the best linacs is unknown.

High Risk/Decipher

Most of the men in these trials were originally intermediate risk. It is entirely possible that originally high-risk men (Gleason 8-10, PSA≥20 or cT3/T4) may benefit more from ART rather than eSRT.  Men who were originally low risk (Gleason 6 and PSA<10 and T1/2) may be able to wait longer or indefinitely before SRT.

If the Decipher score is very high, that should also be taken into account in deciding between ART and eSRT. Genome Dx also provides scores that suggest whether the cancer is amenable to SRT, but those scores have yet to be prospectively validated.

We are starting to get a better handle on the ART vs eSRT decision, but none of what we have learned gives us hard-and-fast guidelines. Thee trial results do provide more fodder for discussion between the patient and his radiation oncologist.



Saturday, June 29, 2019

Evidence for Dose Escalation in Adjuvant/Salvage Radiation

It is well known that prostate cancer is relatively radio-resistant compared to other kinds of cancer. While dose escalation (most recently by increasing the biologically effective dose using hypofractionated dose (more that 2.0 Gy per session) delivery or brachytherapy boost therapy) has become the mainstay in primary radiation therapy, doses delivered for adjuvant or salvage radiation has stayed about 10 Gy lower. Recently, Dr. King's analysis of the dose responsiveness of salvage radiation questioned this supposition (see this link). While his mathematical arguments provide us with intriguing plausibility, only clinical evidence from a randomized clinical trial can change practice.

We now have Level 1 evidence that expanding the adjuvant/salvage treatment field to include the pelvic lymph nodes improves the oncological outcomes in men with higher PSA at the time of salvage radiation.

Link et al. conducted a small, retrospective study among 120 locally advanced (stage T3/4) post-prostatectomy patients at the University of Heidelberg between 2009 and 2017. All were lymph node negative.

  • 43 received whole pelvic radiation therapy (WPRT)- 62% received 79.3 Gy to the prostate
  • 77 received radiation to the prostate bed only (PBO)- 70% received 79.3 Gy to the prostate
  • Biologically equivalent dose (2 Gy) to the prostate was 79.3 Gy ("high dose") if they had positive margins or PET/CT/MRI imaging-detectable prostate bed tumors (62% of patients), 71.4 Gy ("low dose") if they had negative margins (38% of patients).


Median freedom from biochemical failure was:

  • longer among those who got the higher dose: 76 months vs 21 months
  • longer among those who received WPRT vs PBO: 68 months vs 32 months


There is a lot of overlap in treatments, so it is impossible to tease out the effect that each had on the oncological outcomes. Almost all of those who received the escalated dose also had positive margins - a known factor for predicting success of adjuvant/salvage radiation. Also, almost all men who had adjuvant radiation had positive margins and dose escalation - adjuvant radiation has proven to be more successful than "wait-and-see" in 3 major randomized clinical trials.

Toxicity increased with both dose and size of the treatment field. Grade ≥ 2 toxicity was reported by:

  • 3.4% among those who received low dose and PBO
  • 12.5% among those who received high dose and PBO
  • 15.4% among those who received low dose and WPRT
  • 36.7% among those who received high dose and WPRT
  • No reports of Grade 3 gastrointestinal toxicity
  • 13% Grade 3 urinary toxicity among high dose patients, none among low-dose patients


This is a far cry from the randomized clinical trial we need for practice-changing dose escalation for adjuvant/salvage radiation. However, we can't rule out that there is no oncological benefit to dose escalation. It remains unknown what proportion of these high-risk patients would have done just as well with lower doses and smaller treatment fields. The increase in toxicity with dose and treatment field means that patients ought not jump into this without understanding the risks and discussing them with their radiation oncologists.


Monday, January 29, 2018

New Study: Adjuvant Radiation Saves Lives vs. Salvage

A major new study adds to several other studies that show that, for men with adverse pathology, adjuvant radiation (ART) within 3-6 months of prostatectomy saves more lives compared to waiting until the PSA rises into the range of 0.1-0.5 ng/ml - salvage radiation (SRT).

Three previous randomized clinical trials have shown an advantage to adjuvant radiation over a "wait-and-see" approach. However, only one of them (SWOG  S8794) showed that there was an improvement in freedom from metastases and overall survival attributable to earlier treatment. That study was limited in its generalizability because only a third of the "wait-and-see" cohort ever received salvage radiation. ARO-96-02 was designed to detect differences in progression-free survival (which were significant), but it was underpowered to detect overall survival differences. EORTC 22911 was designed to detect differences in progression-free survival (which were significant), but although it had a larger sample size, overall survival did not improve. Sub-group analysis showed the survival benefit was limited to men under the age of 70. A recent meta-analysis of the three trials showed that freedom from biochemical failure, freedom from life-long ADT,  and freedom from distant metastases were significantly improved by adjuvant treatment. But less than half of the men in the wait-and-see arms ever received salvage radiation, and 20-40% of  them never suffered a recurrence. All three trials used salvage radiation doses that would now be deemed too low. ART utilization rates are at an all-time low of 17% in men with adverse pathology.

What we really want to know is: what is the downside of waiting until the PSA rises to some arbitrary level, say 0.2 ng/ml? That is the subject of three randomized clinical trials, but we will not have the findings for several years. Meanwhile, some researchers looked at historical data in a new way to determine whether there is any evidence that might aid in decision-making.

Hwang et al. have pooled the databases from ten top institutions: Massachusetts General, Cleveland Clinic, University of Michigan, Duke University, Washington University, Mayo Clinic, University of Chicago, University of Miami, Virginia Commonwealth University, and Thomas Jefferson University. There were 1,566 patients who were treated between 1987-2013. Patients either had fully contained prostate cancer (T2) with a positive margin or extraprostatic extension (T3a)/ seminal vesicle invasion (T3b) with or without a positive margin.

They used a statistical technique called "propensity score matching" that in some respects resembles what would have resulted from a prospective randomized trial. Every patient who had ART was matched, in terms of patient characteristics, to a patient who had SRT. Patients are chosen randomly from among those with matched characteristics.  Patients were matched on age at surgery, year of surgery, Gleason score, T stage, margin status, postoperative ADT, and pelvic nodal RT. In this way, they were able to generate 366 matched pairs of patients. This technique works quite well in predicting outcomes of prospective randomized trials as long as there is a large enough sample size, considerable overlap in patient characteristics (which there was) and there aren't any prognostic patient characteristics that were missed.

The researchers found that all measured outcomes were significantly better among those who received ART:

  • 12-year freedom from biochemical failure: 69% for ART vs. 43% for SRT
  • 12-year freedom from distant metastases: 95% for ART vs. 85% for SRT
  • 12-year overall survival: 91% for ART vs. 79% for SRT
  • Patients who suffered biochemical failure were more likely to have had SRT, have been stage T3b, have had higher Gleason score, had not been treated with lymph node radiation, and had not had postoperative ADT.
  • The advantage of ART was only lost if more than 56% of them would have been overtreated, but based on nomograms, no more than 46% would have been overtreated (using the assumption that 2/3 were GS 3+4 and 1/3 was GS 4+3).


Pending confirmation by the randomized clinical trials, this study is our best evidence to date that ART is preferable to SRT. However, there are a few very important caveats:

  • They defined SRT as treatment when the PSA is in the range of 0.1 - 0.5 ng/ml. (They actually call this "early" salvage -- a term I would prefer to reserve for radiation when the ultrasensitive PSA (uPSA) is below 0.10 ng/ml.) For uniformity reasons in this 10-institution study, any PSA below 0.10 ng/ml on an uPSA test was deemed "undetectable," and those treated at very low PSAs were considered to have had ART. They had to use those definitions in their analysis because of the heterogeneous data set with PSAs recorded as early as 1987 (before there were any ultrasensitive PSAs). Because the risk of overtreatment with ART is high (they estimate 33%-52%), it behooves patients to track their post-prostatectomy PSA with an ultrasensitive test. We have seen that for men with adverse pathology,  any uPSA over 0.03 ng/ml reliably predicts that it will keep going up to 0.2 ng/ml (see this link). In men without adverse pathology, only a convincing pattern of PSA rises is prognostic.
  • Adverse pathology in this study included anyone with positive margins, but others advocate that the length of the positive margin and the Gleason score at the margin are important considerations. A patient with focal positive margins and GS 6 at the margin may never need additional ART or SRT.
  • They lumped together men whose PSA was undetectable but then climbed higher and men whose PSA was persistently elevated after prostatectomy. Persistent PSA with adverse pathology is a clearer indicator that gross amounts of cancer were left behind and calls for some quick action.
  • The Decipher genomic test was not available throughout most of the study period. For those sitting on the fence, it may be a decisive factor.
  • The newer PET scans (Axumin and PSMA-based) can find metastases if PSA is greater than 0.2 ng/ml. Multiparametric MRI may be able to find sites in the prostate bed or among the pelvic lymph nodes where tumor size is longer than 4 mm. Because of the advantage of earlier treatment, most men will require treatment before metastases become detectable. Some will be overtreated if the cancer is already systemic.
  • Among very high risk patients (i.e., GS 8-10, seminal vesicle invasion (T3b) or invasion of nearby organs (T4), and very high persistent PSA) the probability that ART or SRT will be curative may be very low. Patients should understand what the population-based risk is from a nomogram.
  • The radiation doses delivered were at a median dose of 66 Gy. More recent evidence suggests that higher doses may be necessary to achieve a cure. The value of adjuvant ADT and whole pelvic radiation suggested here has also been suggested by a number of other studies.
  • This study excluded patients with detected positive lymph nodes. That is a clear indication for ART.
There are many factors to consider including comorbidities, continence and potency recovery. This will seldom be a straightforward decision. Patients with adverse pathology and uPSA over 0.03 ng/ml should be talking to a radiation oncologist and not a urologist.




Monday, December 4, 2017

Questions for an adjuvant or salvage radiation doctor

Questions for a Adjuvant or Salvage Radiation Interview.

1. How many prostate cancer patients have you treated with adjuvant/salvage radiation?

2. How has your practice of salvage treatment changed, if at all?

3. Is there any kind of scan that you recommend to rule out metastases that might be useful at my current PSA?

4. What is the probability that I need salvage treatment? Do you calculate that from a nomogram?

5. Do you think I should get a Decipher test to find my probability of metastasis in the next 5/10 years? Do you know if my insurance covers it? What do you think about their PORTOS score?

6. How large a dose do you propose for the prostate bed? (should be near 70 Gy -72 Gy)

7. Do I need pre-treatment, concurrent or adjuvant ADT?

     a. Why?

     b. What's the evidence that it's useful?

     c. For how long?

8.How do you decide whether to treat the pelvic lymph nodes?

     a. If so, at what dose?

     b. How do you plan to prevent bowel toxicity?

     c. How will you account for the separate movement of that area and the prostate bed?

9. What do you think of doing this in fewer treatments (hypofractionation)?

10. What kind of machine do you use? (e.g., RapidArc, Tomotherapy, etc.) Why do you prefer that one?

11. What is the actual treatment time for each treatment? (faster is better)

12. What kind of image guidance do you propose? fiducials in the prostate bed? Using the fixed bones only? Soft tissue?

13. How will inter- and intra-fractional motion be compensated for?

14. What measures do you propose to spare the bladder and rectum?​ (ask about treatment margins and dose constraints)

15. What side effects can I reasonably expect, and how do we handle them?​(discuss in detail!)

16. What probability of a cure can I reasonably expect, given my stats? Is there a nomogram you use to come up with that?

17. How will we monitor my progress afterwards, both oncological and quality of life?

18.What's the best way for us to communicate if I have a question or issue?

Monday, March 27, 2017

Conflicting messages after surgery for high-risk patients from radiation oncologists and urologists

In spite of the data suggesting that brachy boost has better outcomes for high risk patients, it is being utilized less often and surgery is being utilized more often. After surgery, the high-risk patient is monitored by his urologist (Uro). If the urologist fears a recurrence, he may (1) refer his patient to a radiation oncologist (RO) for adjuvant or salvage radiation therapy (A/SRT), (2) refer his patient to a medical oncologist if he believes the recurrence is metastatic and incurable, or (3) he may continue to monitor the patient. The rate of utilization of A/SRT has been dwindling in spite of three major randomized clinical trials that proved that ART has better outcomes than waiting. If the patient does get to see a radiation oncologist, he may be advised to be treated soon, in conflict with the urologist advising him to wait. This puts the patient in a difficult situation.

Kishan et al. report the results of a survey among 846 ROs and 407 Uros. The researchers sought their opinions about under which conditions they would offer a high-risk post-prostatectomy patient A/SRT. For the purposes of their survey, they defined "adjuvant RT" as radiation given before PSA has become detectable, and "salvage RT" as radiation given after PSA has become detectable. "Early salvage RT" means PSA is detectable but lower than 0.2 ng/ml.

The following table shows the percent of ROs and Uros who agreed with each survey question:



RO
Uro
ART underutilized
75%
38%
ART overutilized
4%
19%
SRT underutilized
65%
43%
SRT overutilized
1%
5%



SRT when first PSA is detectable
93%
86%
ART when first PSA is undetectable
43%
16%
Early SRT when first PSA is undetectable
42%
43%
SRT when first PSA is undetectable
16%
41%



Recommend SRT if PSA is:


Detectable
15%
7%
2+ consecutive rises
30%
20%
>0.03-0.1
8%
8%
>0.1-0.2
13%
11%
>0.2-0.4
29%
35%
>0.4
5%
19%



Recommend ART if pathology report is adverse:


Positive margin
80%
47%
Extraprostatic Extension (pT3a)
60%
32%
Seminal Vesicle Invasion(pT3b)
68%
47%
Local organ spread (pT4)
66%
46%
Pelvic lymph node (pN1)
59%
29%
Gleason score 8-10
20%
20%
Prefer SRT
12%
25%



Recommend adjuvant ADT with ART if:


Positive margin
14%
12%
Extraprostatic Extension (pT3a)
15%
11%
Seminal Vesicle Invasion(pT3b)
29%
25%
Local organ spread (pT4)
36%
37%
Pelvic lymph node (pN1)
65%
46%
Gleason score 8-10
46%
28%
No ADT
22%
31%



Recommend whole pelvic A/SRT if:


Positive margin
6%
9%
EPE
12%
9%
SVI
25%
22%
pT4
30%
30%
pN1
82%
64%
GS 8-10
36%
24%
No role
12%
24%
Other
13%
3%

In contrast to Uros, ROs are more likely to believe that both ART and SRT are underutilized. Uros believe that are used about right. ROs often see patients too late if they see them at all.

When the first PSA is detectable, both kinds of doctors would recommend SRT. When the first PSA is undetectable, 43% of ROs would recommend ART nonetheless, while only 16% of Uros would recommend ART.

Most of the ROs would treat when they see 2 consecutive rises in PSA, or if the PSA was detectable and under 0.2. Most (54%) Uros would wait until PSA was over 0.2.

Over half the ROs would recommend ART to high risk patients demonstrating any of several adverse pathological features: positive margins, stage T3/4, or positive pelvic lymph nodes. The majority of Uros would not recommend ART to high risk patients with those adverse pathologies.

The majority (65%) of ROs would include adjuvant ADT if there were positive lymph nodes. Uros were less likely to recommend adjuvant ADT based on lymph node involvement and Gleason score.

While most of both groups would have added whole pelvic radiation for patients with positive lymph nodes, 82% of ROs would, but only 64% of Uros.

ROs, knowing that a locally advanced cancer can suddenly become metastatic, and therefore incurable, would like to give A/SRT as soon as possible. Uros, who treat patients for the combined effect of surgery and radiation on urinary and sexual function, would like to wait as long as possible. The patient is caught in the middle of this difficult decision. Some have recommended beginning neoadjuvant ADT at the lowest detectable PSA and extending that time for as long as needed  to give urinary tissues maximum time to heal. Whatever the high-risk patient may eventually decide is in his best interest, he should meet with an RO immediately after surgery to hear both sides of the issue. Uros are blocking access to information that the patient needs.