High-Dose Once-Daily Thoracic Radiotherapy in Limited-Stage Small-Cell Lung Cancer: CALGB 30610 (Alliance)/RTOG 0538

Author(s): Jeffrey Bogart, MD1; Xiaofei Wang, MD2; Gregory Masters, MD3; Junheng Gao, MD2; Ritsuko Komaki, MD4; Laurie E. Gaspar, MD5,6; John Heymach, MD4; James Bonner, MD7; Charles Kuzma, MD8; Saiama Waqar, MD9; William Petty, MD10; Thomas E. Stinchcombe, MD11; Jeffrey D. Bradley, MD12; and Everett Vokes, MD13
Source: DOI: 10.1200/JCO.22.01359 Journal of Clinical Oncology 41, no. 13 (May 01, 2023) 2394-2402.
Anjan J Patel MD

Dr. Anjan Patel's Thoughts

Twice-Daily radiation therapy is a long-standing SOC for LS-SCLC based upon improved OS in Intergroup0096, published nearly 25 years ago in 1999. This study compared 45 Gy at 1.5 Gy/fx BID vs. 45 Gy at 1.8 Gy/day. This regimen, however, has been slow to be adopted due to the inconvenience of BID therapy, as well as the modest radiation dose in control arm.
The current study, along with the similarly conducted CONVERT trial (Lancet Oncol, 2017), establishes modern, dose-escalated QD radiation therapy (70 Gy) as non-inferior to BID treatment (45 Gy) without any significant differences in survival or toxicity. The lack of improvement in outcomes with dose-escalated RT remains perplexing to the radiation oncology community but provides evidence-based rationale to QD therapy with concurrent platinum + etoposide chemotherapy.
(Remarks from Radiation Oncologist Kunal Saigal, MD)


Although level 1 evidence supports 45-Gy twice-daily radiotherapy as standard for limited-stage small-cell lung cancer, most patients receive higher-dose once-daily regimens in clinical practice. Whether increasing radiotherapy dose improves outcomes remains to be prospectively demonstrated.


This phase III trial, CALGB 30610/RTOG 0538 (ClinicalTrials.gov identifier: NCT00632853), was conducted in two stages. In the first stage, patients with limited-stage disease were randomly assigned to receive 45-Gy twice-daily, 70-Gy once-daily, or 61.2-Gy concomitant-boost radiotherapy, starting with either the first or second (of four total) chemotherapy cycles. In the second stage, allocation to the 61.2-Gy arm was discontinued following planned interim toxicity analysis, and the study continued with two remaining arms. The primary end point was overall survival (OS) in the intention-to-treat population.


Trial accrual opened on March 15, 2008, and closed on December 1, 2019. All patients randomly assigned to 45-Gy twice-daily (n = 313) or 70-Gy once-daily radiotherapy (n = 325) are included in this analysis. After a median follow-up of 4.7 years, OS was not improved on the once-daily arm (hazard ratio for death, 0.94; 95% CI, 0.76 to 1.17; P = .594). Median survival is 28.5 months for twice-daily treatment, and 30.1 months for once-daily treatment, with 5-year OS of 29% and 32%, respectively. Treatment was tolerable, and the frequency of severe adverse events, including esophageal and pulmonary toxicity, was similar on both arms.


Although 45-Gy twice-daily radiotherapy remains the standard of care, this study provides the most robust information available to help guide the choice of thoracic radiotherapy regimen for patients with limited-stage small-cell lung cancer.

Author Affiliations

1State University of New York Upstate Medical University, New York, NY2Alliance Statistics and Data Management Center, Duke University, Durham, NC3Delaware/Christiana Care NCORP, Helen Graham Cancer Center, Newark, DE4MD Anderson Cancer Center, University of Texas, Houston, TX5University of Colorado Denver Health Science Center, Denver, CO6University of Colorado School of Medicine, Aurora, CO7University of Alabama, Birmingham, AL8Southeast Clinical Oncology Research Consortium NCORP, FirstHealth of the Carolinas-Moore Regional Hospital, Pinehurst, NC9Washington University—Siteman Cancer Center, St Louis, MO10Wake Forest University Health Sciences, Winston-Salem, NC11Duke Cancer Institute, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, NC12Winship Cancer Institute, Emory University, Atlanta, GA13University of Chicago Comprehensive Cancer Center, Chicago, IL

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