Hypofractionated Adjuvant Radiotherapy for Resected Head and Neck Cancers (HART-HN)

  • End date
    Jan 21, 2026
  • participants needed
  • sponsor
    Medical College of Wisconsin
Updated on 21 March 2022


The primary purpose of this study is to determine the safe reduction of the treatment fractions to 10, 8, or 5, that may be delivered safely in resected head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) patients with intermediate pathologic risk features.


RATIONALE: Postoperative hypofractionated radiation is well established in many malignancies, yielding benefits in compliance, access to care, convenience, and cost savings. In several solid tumor types, short-course high dose-per-fraction (hypofractionated) post-operative radiation has shown excellent tolerability, reduced healthcare costs, improved compliance, and at least equivalent cancer control compared to conventional post-operative radiation (long course, low dose-per-fraction).(1-3) Despite advances in other malignancies, hypofractionated post-operative radiation is not used in previously untreated mucosal HNSCCs, for which an extended course of conventional post-operative radiation (usually 60 Gy in 2 Gy fractions delivered over six weeks) remains the standard. Hypofractionation has been stymied in the post-operative setting for HNSCCs primarily due to concerns of toxicity in treating a large mucosal field and an inability to spare critical structures such as the brain and spinal cord. These concerns were well-founded in the 1970s during the era of 2-dimensional radiotherapy when conventional HNSCC radiotherapy regimens were developed.(4) But because radiotherapy can be delivered far more precisely using intensity modulated radiation therapy (IMRT), it is hypothesized that post-operative radiation for HNSCCs can now be delivered safely in only five fractions delivered over one week.(3, 5, 6)

Condition Resectable Head and Neck Squamous Cell Carcinoma
Treatment 42 Gy Radiation Therapy, 39 Gy Radiation Therapy, 32.5 Gy Radiation Therapy
Clinical Study IdentifierNCT05120947
SponsorMedical College of Wisconsin
Last Modified on21 March 2022


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Inclusion Criteria

Patients 18 years or older with gross totally resected (R0 resection) Human papillomavirus (HPV) -negative squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck (squamous cell carcinoma of the larynx, hypopharynx, oropharynx, oral cavity, nasal cavity, paranasal sinuses or carcinoma of unknown head/neck primary) who have at least 1 of the following intermediate risk factors for adjuvant radiation
Pathologic Node Positive Disease
Perineural Invasion
Oral cavity cancer with depth of invasion of at least 5 mm
Lymphovascular Space Invasion
Pathologic T3 or T4 disease
Zubrod performance status 0-2
Patients must have the psychological ability and general health that permits completion of the study requirements and required follow up
Inclusion of Covid-19 positive patients will be based on standard institutional protocol
Female patients must meet one of the following
Postmenopausal for at least one year before the screening visit, or
Surgically sterile (i.e. undergone a hysterectomy or bilateral oophorectomy), or
If subject is of childbearing potential (defined as not satisfying either of the above two criteria), agree to practice two acceptable methods of contraception (combination methods requires use of two of the following: diaphragm with spermicide, cervical cap with spermicide, contraceptive sponge, male or female condom, hormonal contraceptive) from the time of signing of the informed consent form through 90 days after the last dose of study agent, AND o Agree to practice true abstinence when this is in line with the preferred and usual lifestyle of the subject. (Periodic abstinence [e.g., calendar, ovulation, symptom-thermal, post ovulation methods] and withdrawal are not acceptable contraception methods)
Male patients, even if surgically sterilized (i.e., status post vasectomy), must agree
to one of the following
Practice effective barrier contraception during the entire study period and through 60 calendar days after the last dose of study agent, OR
Must also adhere to the guidelines of any study-specific pregnancy prevention program, if applicable, OR o Agree to practice true abstinence when this is in line with the preferred and usual lifestyle of the subject. (Periodic abstinence [e.g., calendar, ovulation, symptom-thermal, post ovulation methods] and withdrawal are not acceptable methods of contraception.)
Ability to understand a written informed consent document, and the willingness to sign

Exclusion Criteria

Pathologic evidence of extranodal extension
Pathologic evidence of a final positive margin (R1 resection) or gross residual disease (R2 resection)
HPV-positive squamous cell carcinoma
Prior invasive malignancy within the past 3 years (except for non-melanomatous skin cancer, and early stage treated prostate cancer)
Life expectancy less than 12 months
Performance status Zubrod ≥ 3
Patients with prior radiation therapy to the head and neck Note: Prior external beam radiotherapy is excluded, but Iodine 131 is allowed
Prior systemic therapy, including cytotoxic chemotherapy, biologic/targeted therapy, or immune therapy for the study cancer
Body weight ≤ 30 kg
Any of the following severe laboratory abnormalities within 14 days of registration, unless corrected prior to it: Sodium < 130 mmol/L or > 155 mmol/L; Potassium < 3.5 mmol/L or > 6 mmol/L; Fasting glucose < 40 mg/dl or > 400 mg/dl; Serum calcium (ionized or adjusted for albumin) < 7 mg/dl or > 12.5 mg/dl; Magnesium < 0.9 mg/dl or > 3 mg/dl
Unstable angina and/or congestive heart failure requiring hospitalization within 3 months prior to Step 1 registration
Transmural myocardial infarction within three months prior to Step 1 registration
Medical or psychiatric illness which would compromise the patient's ability to tolerate treatment or limit compliance with study requirements
Pregnancy or women of childbearing potential and men who are sexually active and not willing/able to use medically acceptable forms of contraception during treatment and for 6 months after radiation, this exclusion is necessary because the treatment involved in this study may be significantly teratogenic. Women who are breastfeeding are also excluded
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