Locoregionally advanced carcinoma of the oropharynx: Conventional radiotherapy vs. accelerated hyperfractionated radiotherapy vs. concomitant radiotherapy and chemotherapy - A multicenter randomized trial

Patrizia Olmi, Sergio Crispino, Carlo Fallai, Valter Torri, Francesca Rossi, Andrea Bolner, Maurizio Amichetti, Marco Signor, Raffaella Taino, Massimo Squadrelli, Alessandro Colombo, Alessandro Ardizzoia, Pietro Ponticelli, Giovanni Franchin, Emilio Minatel, Carlo Gobitti, Guido Atzeni, Alessandro Gava, Monica Flann, Silvia Marsoni

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: To compare conventional fractionation radiation therapy (RT), Arm A, vs. split-course accelerated hyperfractionated RT (S-AHF), Arm B, vs. conventional fractionation RT plus concomitant chemotherapy (CT), Arm C, in terms of survival and toxicity for advanced, unresectable epidermoid tumors of oropharynx. Methods and Materials: Between January 1993 and June 1998, 192 previously untreated patients affected with Stage III and IV oropharyngeal carcinoma (excluding T1N1 and T2N1) were accrued in a multicenter, randomized Phase III trial (ORO 93-01). For Arms A and C, 66-70 Gy in 33-35 fractions, 5 days a week, were administered in 6.5-7 weeks to tumor and positive nodes. In Arm B, the dose delivered to tumor and involved nodes was 64-67.2 Gy, giving 2 fractions of 1.6 Gy every day with an interfraction interval of at least 4 h and preferably 6 h, 5 days a week. At 38.4 Gy, a 2-week split was planned; after the split, RT was resumed with the same modality. In Arm C, CT regimen consisted of carboplatin and 5-fluorouracil (CBDCA 75 mg/m2, Days 1-4; 5-FU 1,000 mg/m2 i.v. over 96 h, Days 1-4, recycling every 28 days (at 1st, 5th, and 9th week). Results: No statistically significant difference was detected in overall survival (p = 0.129): 40% Arm A vs. 37% Arm B vs. 51% Arm C were alive at 24 months. Similarly, there was no statistically significant difference in terms of event-free survival (p = 0.196): 20% for Arm A, 19% for Arm B, and 37% for Arm C were event free at 24 months. On the contrary, the 2-year disease-free survival was significantly different among the three arms (p = 0.022), with a superiority for Arm C. At 24 months, the proportion of patients without relapse was 42% for Arm C vs. 23% for Arm A and 20% for Arm B. Patients in Arm A less frequently developed G3+ acute mucositis than their counterparts in Arm B or C (14.7% vs. 40.3% vs. 44%). Regarding the CT-related acute toxicity, apart from 1 case of fatal nephrotoxicity, only hematologic G3+ (Grade 3 or higher) acute sequelae were observed (World Health Organization scale), most commonly leukopenia (22.7%). Arm C showed slightly more G3+ skin, s.c. tissue, and mucosal late side effects (RTOG scale), although significant sequelae were relatively uncommon, and mucosal sequelae were most commonly transient. The occurrence of persistent G3 xerostomia was comparable in all three treatment arms. Conclusions: The combination of simultaneous CT and RT with the regimen of this trial is better than RT alone in advanced oropharyngeal squamous-cell carcinomas, by increasing disease-free survival. This improvement, however, did not translate into an overall survival improvement, and was associated with a higher incidence of acute morbidity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)78-92
Number of pages15
JournalInternational Journal of Radiation Oncology Biology Physics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2003


  • Advanced squamous-cell oropharyngeal carcinoma
  • Altered fractionation
  • Concomitant radiochemotherapy
  • Radiation therapy
  • Randomized Phase III trial

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Radiation


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