Oxygenation of cervical cancers during radiotherapy and radiotherapy + cis-retinoic acid/interferon

Jürgen Dunst*, Gabriele Ḧansgen, Christine Lautenschl̈ager, Glenn F̈uchsel, Axel Becker

*Corresponding author for this work
48 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: We have evaluated the tumor tissue pO2 in cervical cancers during radiotherapy with special emphasis on the course of the pO2 in primarily hypoxic tumors and in patients treated with radiotherapy plus 13- cis-retinoic acid/interferon- α-2a. Methods and Materials: From June 1995 through April 1997, 49 patients with squamous cell carcinoma FIGO IIB-IVA of the cervix who were treated with definite radiotherapy with curative intent underwent polarographic measurement of tumor tissue pO2 with an Eppendorf pO2-histograph prior to and during radiation treatment. Radiotherapy consisted of external irradiation with 50.4 Gy in 28 fractions of 1.8 Gy plus high dose rate (HDR) brachytherapy. Twenty-two patients had additional treatment with 13-cis-retinoic acid (cRA, isotretinoin) and interferon-α-2a (IFN-α-2a). Therapy with cRA/IFN in these patients started 2 weeks before radiotherapy; during this induction period, cRA was administered in a dosage of 1 mg per kilogram body weight orally daily and IFN-α-2a in a dosage of 6 x 106 I.U. subcutaneously daily. After start of external radiotherapy (XRT), cRA/IFN was continued concomitantly with radiotherapy in reduced doses (0.5 mg cRA per kg body weight orally daily plus 3 x 106 I.U. IFN-α-2a subcutaneously three times weekly until the end of the radiation treatment). pO2 measurements were performed prior to radiotherapy, at 20 Gy, and at the end of radiotherapy. Results: A poor oxygenation defined as a median pO2 of 10 mm Hg or less was present in 15/38 tumors (39%) in which measurements prior to any treatment were done. Low pO2 readings below 5 mm Hg were present in 70% of all tumors prior to treatment. In 13 of 15 hypoxic tumors, pO2 measurements at 19.8 Gy were performed. In these tumors, a significant increase of the median pO2 from 6.0 ± 3.1 mm Hg to 20.7 ± 21.2 mm Hg was found, p < 0.01. The increase in the median pO2 was more pronounced in patients with radiotherapy plus additional cRA/IFN treatment as compared to patients treated with irradiation alone (median pO2 raised from 7.0 ± 3.5 mm Hg to 40.9 ± 21.3 mm Hg versus 5.7 ± 3.1 mm Hg to 14.7 ± 17.9 mm Hg). In a multivariate analysis, both the effect of radiation dose (pretreatment versus 19.8 Gy) and the type of treatment (XRT alone versus XRT plus cRMIFN) had significant impact on the pO2 (p = 0.003 and p = 0.04). In patients with well-oxygenated tumors (pretreatment median pO2 > 10 mm Hg), 20/23 (87%) achieved a clinically complete response. In patients with primarily hypoxic tumors, 6/6 patients whose primarily hypoxic tumors showed an increase of the median pO2 above 10 mm Hg at 19.8 Gy achieved a complete remission (CR). In contrast, only 4/7 patients with a low pretreatment and persisting low median pO2 achieved a CR. Conclusions: There are evident changes in the oxygenation of cervical cancers during a course of fractionated radiotherapy. In primarily hypoxic tumors, a significant increase of the median pO2 was found. An additional treatment with cis-retinoic acid/interferon further improved the oxygenation. An impact of the different patterns of oxygenation on local control is to be evaluated.

Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Radiation Oncology Biology Physics
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)367-373
Number of pages7
Publication statusPublished - 15.01.1999


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