Results of a multicentre randomised controlled trial of cochlear-sparing intensity-modulated radiotherapy versus conventional radiotherapy in patients with parotid cancer (COSTAR; CRUK/08/004) (2018)

Type of publication:
Journal article

Nutting , Morden JP, Beasley M, Bhide S, Cook A, De Winton E, Emson M, Evans M, Fresco L, Gollins S, Gujral D, Harrington K, Joseph M, Lemon C, Luxon L, van den Blink Q, Mendes R, Miah A, Newbold K, Prestwich R, Robinson M, Sanghera P, Simpson J, Sivaramalingam M, *Srihari NN, Sydenham M, Wells E, Witts S, Hall E; COSTAR Investigators.

European Journal of Cancer; Nov 2018; vol. 103 ; p. 249-258

Purpose: About 40-60% of patients treated with post-operative radiotherapy for parotid cancer experience
ipsilateral sensorineural hearing loss. Intensity-modulated radiotherapy (IMRT) can reduce radiation dose to the cochlea. COSTAR, a phase III trial, investigated the role of cochlear-sparing IMRT (CS-IMRT) in reducing hearing loss. Methods: Patients (pT1-4 N0-3 M0) were randomly assigned (1:1) to 3-dimensional conformal radiotherapy (3DCRT) or CS-IMRT by minimisation, balancing for centre and radiation dose of 60Gy or 65Gy in 30 daily fractions. The primary end-point was proportion of patients with sensorineural hearing loss in the ipsilateral cochlea of >=10 dB bone conduction at 4000 Hz 12 months after radiotherapy compared using Fisher's exact test. Secondary end-points included hearing loss at 6 and 24 months, balance assessment, acute and late toxicity, patient-reported quality of life, time to recurrence and survival. Results: From Aug 2008 to Feb 2013, 110 patients (54 3DCRT; 56 CS-IMRT) were enrolled from 22 UK centres. Median doses to the ipsilateral cochlea were 3DCRT: 56.2Gy and CS-IMRT: 35.7Gy (p < 0.0001). 67/110 (61%) patients were evaluable for the primary end-point; main reasons for non-evaluability were non-attendance at follow-up or incomplete audiology assessment. At 12 months, 14/36 (39%) 3DCRT and 11/31 (36%) CS-IMRT patients had >=10 dB loss (p = 0.81). No statistically significant differences were observed in hearing loss at 6 or 24 months or in other secondary end-points including patient-reported hearing outcomes. Conclusion: CS-IMRT reduced the radiation dose below the accepted tolerance of the cochlea, but this did not lead to a reduction in the proportion of patients with clinically relevant hearing loss.