Hypofractionated Proton Therapy for the Treatment of Head and Neck Cancer, The HEADLIGHT Study"

  • End date
    Nov 15, 2026
  • participants needed
  • sponsor
    Mayo Clinic
Updated on 20 April 2022


This clinical trial tests whether intensity modulated proton therapy after surgery works to shrink tumors in patients with head and neck cancer. Radiation therapy uses high energy protons to kill tumor cells and shrink tumors.



I. The primary goal is to evaluate the local-regional control among subjects in both arms at 2 years after study registration.


I. To determine overall survival progression free survival local, regional, distant recurrence risks, and infield and outfield recurrence in the trial at 2 years after study registration.

II. To determine the rate and duration of grade 3+ acute adverse events from treatment start to 30 days after radiation completion date).

III. To determine the incidence of secondary acute effects attributable to radiotherapy (e.g. percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy [PEG] tube placement, duration and dose of narcotic analgesia required, weight loss, and hospitalization days).

IV. To determine the impact of treatment on patient reported quality of life. V. To objectively quantify the severity of oral mucositis during and following radiotherapy.


I. To estimate direct and indirect costs of the study regimen and compare these with standard of care treatment techniques.

II. To correlate histopathologic, molecular, and tumor genetic/epigenetic alterations with clinical outcomes.

III. To correlate circulating biomarkers (microribonucleic acid [miRNA], circulating tumor deoxyribonucleic acid [ctDNA]) with clinical outcomes.

IV. To determine adverse events and patient reported outcomes related to abbreviated concomitant chemotherapy.

V. To determine incidence and severity of late effects attributable to radiotherapy at 1-3 years after treatment.

VI. To qualitatively evaluate patient beliefs regarding tradeoffs of cancer control, treatment time, cost, acute side effects, and late side effects.

VII. To determine cancer out comes, adverse events, and patient reported outcomes and compare across head and neck subsites, between those aged 65 to those age < 65 at date of enrollment, between male and female, and in the adjuvant population between time to total package completion (< 9 weeks vs weeks, surgery day 0) and by treatment with and without chemotherapy.

VIII. To evaluate the predictive relationship of linear energy transfer (LET) weighted modeling using an relative biologic enhancement (RBE) based model and RBE independent model with grade 3+ acute and late toxicity.

OUTLINE: Patients are assigned to 1 of 2 arms.

ARM A: Patients who already underwent surgical resection undergo intensity modulated proton therapy (IMPT) for 18 sessions (Monday-Friday) over 24 days in the absence of disease progression or unacceptable toxicity. Patients may receive cisplatin intravenously (IV) over 1-2 hours per standard of care.

ARM B: Patients undergo surgical resection and then IMPT for 15 sessions (Monday-Friday) over 19 days in the absence of disease progression or unacceptable toxicity. Patients may receive cisplatin IV over 1-2 hours per standard of care.

After completion of study treatment, patients are followed up within 21 days, every 3 months for 2 years, and then every 6-12 months for 5-10 years.

Condition Head and Neck Carcinoma, Head and Neck Carcinoma of Unknown Primary, Hypopharyngeal Carcinoma, Laryngeal Carcinoma, Metastatic Malignant Neoplasm in the Lymph Nodes, Nasal Cavity Carcinoma, Oral Cavity Carcinoma, Oropharyngeal Carcinoma, Paranasal Sinus Carcinoma, Salivary Gland Carcinoma, Skin Carcinoma
Treatment questionnaire administration, cisplatin, quality-of-life assessment, Intensity-Modulated Proton Therapy
Clinical Study IdentifierNCT05075980
SponsorMayo Clinic
Last Modified on20 April 2022


Yes No Not Sure

Inclusion Criteria

Age >= 18 years
Histological confirmation of a newly diagnosed non-human papillomavirus (HPV) associated malignant epithelial cancer in the head and/or neck. Diagnosis requires confirmation of p16 and/or HPV DNA negativity for oropharyngeal and unknown primary sites. p16 positivity in skin cancers is allowed
Primary lesion located in the nasal cavity, paranasal sinuses, oral cavity, oropharynx, larynx, hypopharynx, salivary glands, lymph nodes (unknown primary or metastasis from head and neck [HN]-skin primary) or skin cancer where lymph node radiation is recommended
NOTE: Patients with primary lesions in the larynx must have a T3 primary, bulky T2 primary (> 6 cc), and/or at least 1 regional lymph node
Confirmation of American Joint Committee on Cancer (AJCC) 8th edition defined M0
established by positron emission tomography (PET)/computed tomography (CT) or
PET/magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group (ECOG) performance status (0-1 prior to initial treatment)
Able to provide written informed consent
Able to complete questionnaires independently or with assistance
Willing to return to enrolling institution for follow up during the observation phase
Hemoglobin >= 8.0 g/dl (within 8 weeks of registration)
Platelets >= 75,000 cells/mm^3 (within 8 weeks of registration)
Absolute neutrophil count > 1500 cells/mm^3 (within 8 weeks of registration)
Coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) testing per institutional standard. If pre-treatment testing, patients should be negative prior to starting treatment or symptom free for at least 14 days from documented positive test. Vaccination status should be documented

Exclusion Criteria

Pregnant women (serum pregnancy test required before treatment per department policy)
Co-morbid systemic illnesses or other severe concurrent disease which, in the judgment of the investigator, would make the patient inappropriate for entry into this study or interfere significantly with the proper assessment of safety and toxicity of the prescribed regimens
Immunocompromised patients and patients known to be human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) positive and currently receiving antiretroviral therapy
NOTE: Patients known to be HIV positive, but without clinical evidence of immunocompromised state, are eligible for this trial
Uncontrolled intercurrent illness including, but not limited to, ongoing or active
infection, symptomatic congestive heart failure, unstable angina pectoris
cardiac arrhythmia, or psychiatric illness/social situations that would limit
compliance with study requirements
Receiving any other investigational agent which would be considered as a treatment for the primary neoplasm
Other active malignancy =< 2 years prior to registration
EXCEPTIONS: Non-melanotic skin cancer or carcinoma-in-situ of the cervix and prostate cancer with a Gleason score of 6 or less
NOTE: If there is a history or prior malignancy, they must not be receiving ongoing anticancer treatment
History of myocardial infarction =< 6 months, or congestive heart failure requiring
use of ongoing maintenance therapy for life-threatening ventricular
Prior radiation therapy that would have a clinically significant overlap with the intended head/neck radiation
Unable to receive proton therapy because of extensive metallic hardware in close proximity to treatment site, logistical circumstances, or any other reason
Any of the following diagnoses: HPV-associated squamous cell carcinoma, germ cell tumors, hematologic malignancies, neuroendocrine malignancies, adenoid cystic carcinoma, sarcomas of bone, benign tumors
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