Twice Daily Therapy as Effective as Once Daily Treatment in Small Cell Lung Cancer

Patients receiving radiotherapy twice per day had a 2-year survival of 56% versus 51% in patients receiving treatment once per day.

Findings from a recent study suggest that radiotherapy twice per day for 3 weeks is equally as effective in treating small cell lung cancer as radiotherapy once per day for 6.5 weeks.

The CONVERT clinical trial included 550 patients randomized into treatment groups, who either received radiotherapy twice per day for 3 weeks or a higher dose of radiotherapy once per day over 6.5 weeks. Patients were also treated with chemotherapy, according to a study presented at the 2016 American Society of Clinical Oncology Annual Meeting.

Researchers found patients receiving radiotherapy twice per day had a 2-year survival rate of 56%, while patients in the once per day group had a 2-year survival of 51%. Side effects were similar in both groups, but neutropenia occurred in 74% of patients receiving radiotherapy twice per day compared with 65% of patients in the other group, according to the study.

Researchers also discovered that 66 grays once per day and 45 grays twice per day were the ideal doses for radiotherapy. The researchers will follow-up with the patients for another 3 years.

"Before this study it was unclear whether having radiotherapy once or twice a day helped more patients survive for longer and what level of side effects was expected with modern radiotherapy techniques,” concluded lead researcher Corinne Faivre-Finn, FRCR, MD, PhD. "We're pleased to provide answers to these questions and our results have already begun to change practice around the world. Based on our findings, small cell lung cancer patients will be able to choose between a shorter course of radiotherapy given twice a day and a longer course given once a day."