A multicentric randomized controlled phase III trial of adaptive and 18F-FDG-PET-guided dose-redistribution in locally advanced head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (ARTFORCE).



This multicenter randomized phase III trial evaluated whether locoregional control of patients with LAHNSCC could be improved by fluorodeoxyglucose-positron emission tomography (FDG-PET)-guided dose-escalation while minimizing the risk of increasing toxicity using a dose-redistribution and scheduled adaptation strategy.


Patients with T3-4-N0-3-M0 LAHNSCC were randomly assigned (1:1) to either receive a dose distribution ranging from 64-84 Gy/35 fractions with adaptation at the 10thfraction (rRT) or conventional 70 Gy/35 fractions (cRT). Both arms received concurrent three-cycle 100 mg/m2cisplatin. Primary endpoints were 2-year locoregional control (LRC) and toxicity. Primary analysis was based on the intention-to-treat principle.


Due to slow accrual, the study was prematurely closed (at 84 %) after randomizing 221 eligible patients between 2012 and 2019 to receive rRT (N = 109) or cRT (N = 112). The 2-year LRC estimate difference of 81 % (95 %CI 74-89 %) vs. 74 % (66-83 %) in the rRT and cRT arm, respectively, was not found statistically significant (HR 0.75, 95 %CI 0.43-1.31,P=.31). Toxicity prevalence and incidence rates were similar between trial arms, with exception for a significant increased grade ≥ 3 pharyngolaryngeal stenoses incidence rate in the rRT arm (0 versus 4 %,P=.05). In post-hoc subgroup analyses, rRT improved LRC for patients with N0-1 disease (HR 0.21, 95 %CI 0.05-0.93) and oropharyngeal cancer (0.31, 0.10-0.95), regardless of HPV.


Adaptive and dose redistributed radiotherapy enabled dose-escalation with similar toxicity rates compared to conventional radiotherapy. While FDG-PET-guided dose-escalation did overall not lead to significant tumor control or survival improvements, post-hoc results showed improved locoregional control for patients with N0-1 disease or oropharyngeal cancer treated with rRT.

More about this publication

Radiotherapy and oncology : journal of the European Society for Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology
  • Volume 196
  • Pages 110281
  • Publication date 01-07-2024

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