The phase III FLAME trial (NCT01168479) showed an increase in five-year biochemical disease-free survival, with no significant increase in toxicity when adding a focal boost to external beam radiotherapy (EBRT) for localized prostate cancer [Kerkmeijer et al. JCO 2021]. The aim of this study was to investigate the association between delivered radiation dose to the anorectum and gastrointestinal (GI) toxicity (grade ≥2).
All patients in the FLAME trial were analyzed, irrespective of treatment arm. The dose-effect relation of the anorectal dose parameters (D2cm3 and D50%) and GI toxicity grade ≥2 in four years of follow-up was assessed using a mixed model analysis for repeated measurements, adjusted for age, cardiovascular disease, diabetes mellitus, T-stage, baseline toxicity grade ≥1, hormonal therapy and institute.
A dose-effect relation for D2cm3 and D50% was observed with adjusted odds ratios of 1.17 (95% CI 1.13-1.21, p < 0.0001) and 1.20 (95% CI 1.14-1.25, p < 0.0001) for GI toxicity, respectively.
Although there was no difference in toxicity between study arms, a higher radiation dose to the anorectum was associated with a statistically significant increase in GI toxicity following EBRT for prostate cancer. This dose-effect relation was present for both large and small anorectal volumes. Therefore, further increase in dose to the anorectum should be weighed against the benefit of focal dose escalation for prostate cancer.