A short time interval between radiotherapy and hyperthermia reduces in-field recurrence and mortality in women with advanced cervical cancer

Caspar M. van Leeuwen, Arlene L. Oei, Kenneth W. T. K. Chin, Johannes Crezee, Arjan Bel, Anneke M. Westermann, Marrije R. Buist, Nicolaas A. P. Franken, Lukas J. A. Stalpers, H. Petra Kok

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Combined radiotherapy and hyperthermia is a well-established alternative to chemoradiotherapy for advanced stage cervical cancer patients with a contraindication for chemotherapy. Pre-clinical evidence suggests that the radiosensitizing effect of hyperthermia decreases substantially for time intervals between radiotherapy and hyperthermia as short as 1-2 h, but clinical evidence is limited. The purpose of this study is to determine the effect of the time interval between external beam radiotherapy (EBRT) and same-day hyperthermia on in-field recurrence rate, overall survival and late toxicity in women with advanced stage cervical cancer. Patients with advanced stage cervical cancer who underwent a full-course of curative daily EBRT and (4-5) weekly hyperthermia sessions between 1999 and 2014 were included for retrospective analysis. The mean time interval between EBRT fractions and same-day hyperthermia was calculated for each patient; the median thereof was used to divide the cohort in a 'short' and 'long' time-interval group. Kaplan-Meier analysis and stepwise Cox regression were used to compare the in-field recurrence and overall survival. Finally, high-grade (≥3) late toxicity was compared across time-interval groups. DNA repair suppression is an important hyperthermia mechanism, DNA damage repair kinetics were therefore studied in patient biopsies to support clinical findings. Included were 58 patients. The 3-year in field recurrence rate was 18% and 53% in the short (≤79.2 min) and long (>79.2 min) time-interval group, respectively (p = 0.021); the 5-year overall survival was 52% and 17% respectively (p = 0.015). Differences between time-interval groups remained significant for both in-field recurrence (HR = 7.7, p = 0.007) and overall survival (HR = 2.3, p = 0.012) in multivariable Cox regression. No difference in toxicity was observed (p = 1.00), with only 6 and 5 events in the short and long group, respectively. The majority of DNA damage was repaired within 2 h, potentially explaining a reduced effectiveness of hyperthermia for long time intervals. A short time interval between EBRT and hyperthermia is associated with a lower risk of in-field recurrence and a better overall survival. There was no evidence for difference in late toxicity
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)75
JournalRadiation Oncology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 27 Apr 2017


  • Cervical cancer
  • Clinical outcome
  • Hyperthermia
  • Radiotherapy
  • Time interval

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