Whole-Brain Radiation Therapy With or Without Hippocampal Avoidance in Treating Patients With Limited Stage or Extensive Stage Small Cell Lung Cancer (NRG-CC003)

Randomized Phase II/III Trial of Prophylactic Cranial Irradiation With or Without Hippocampal Avoidance for Small Cell Lung Cancer


This randomized phase II/III trial studies how well whole-brain radiation therapy works and compares it with or without hippocampal avoidance in treating patients with small cell lung cancer that is found in one lung, the tissues between the lungs, and nearby lymph nodes only (limited stage) or has spread outside of the lung in which it began or to other parts of the body (extensive stage). Radiation therapy uses high energy x-rays to kill tumor cells and shrink tumors. The hippocampus is part of the brain that is important for memory. Avoiding the hippocampus during whole-brain radiation could decrease the chance of side effects on memory and thinking. It is not yet known whether giving whole-brain radiation therapy is more effective with or without hippocampal avoidance in treating patients with small cell lung cancer.

Key Inclusion Criteria

For a patient to be eligible for participation in this study, all of the following criteria must apply.

  • Histologic proof or unequivocal cytologic proof (fine needle aspiration, biopsy or two positive sputa) of SCLC within 250 days prior to Step 1 registration
  • Patients must have a three-dimensional (3D), T1-weighted, spoiled gradient (SPGR), magnetization-prepared rapid gradient echo (MP-RAGE), or turbo field echo (TFE) MRI scan without and with gadolinium contrast-enhanced T1-weighted axial, coronal, and sagittal sequence acquisitions and standard T2-weighted axial and coronal fluid attenuation inversion recovery (FLAIR) sequence acquisitions within 28 days of Step 1 registration; to yield acceptable image quality, the pre-contrast-enhanced should have a resolution of 1 x 1 x 1.2 mm and should follow the protocols established by the Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative (ADNI); performance of this sequence at a 3 Tesla field strength is recommended; sites may contact the Imaging Co-Chair, Dr. Tammie Benzinger, for further information or assistance if needed; to yield acceptable image quality, the gadolinium contrast-enhanced T1-weighted scan should use the smallest possible axial slice thickness not exceeding 1.5 mm; the associated coronal and sagittal sequences can be up to 2.5 mm in slice thickness; this imaging is considered standard of care
  • Note: The MRI study as part of response assessment following chemotherapy can be used for this purpose, but the appropriate sequences must be obtained; this sequence cannot be obtained prior to chemotherapy and is mandatory irrespective of randomization to the experimental or control arm of this study
  • Patients must sign a study-specific informed consent prior to study entry
  • The following baseline neurocognitive assessments must be completed within 14 days prior to Step 2 registration: HVLT-R, TMT, and COWA; the neurocognitive assessments will be uploaded into the National Surgical Adjuvant Breast and Bowel Project, Radiation Therapy Oncology Group, and Gynecologic Oncology Group (NRG) Oncology RAVE system for evaluation by Dr. Wefel; once the upload is complete, a notification will be sent to the site to proceed to Step 2; note: completed baseline neurocognitive assessments can be uploaded at the time of Step 1 registration
  • Patients must have a baseline raw score greater than 2 on the HVLT-R delayed recall
  • Prior to chemotherapy or thoracic radiotherapy, patients must be defined as limited-stage or extensive-stage SCLC after clinical staging evaluation involving the following:
    • History/physical examination;
    • Computed tomography (CT) of the chest and abdomen with contrast (does not have to be done if the patient has had a positron emission tomography (PET)/CT scan within 8 weeks prior to initiating chemotherapy or thoracic radiotherapy)
    • MRI of the brain
    •  For patients without evidence of extensive-stage SCLC on chest and abdomen CT and brain MRI, a PET/CT or bone scan is required to confirm limited-stage SCLC
  • Patients must be registered on study no earlier than 1 week and no later than 8 weeks after completing chemotherapy (+/- thoracic radiotherapy)
  • After chemotherapy, patients must be restaged using the same diagnostic work-up as required pre-chemotherapy; repeat PET/CT or bone scan is not required; patients must have:
    • No central nervous system (CNS) metastases
    • Radiographic partial or complete response to chemotherapy in at least one disease site using Response Evaluation Criteria in Solid Tumors (RECIST) criteria
    • No progression in any site
  • Zubrod performance status 0-2
  • Women of childbearing potential and male participants must practice adequate contraception
  • Women of childbearing potential must have a negative qualitative serum pregnancy test =< 2 weeks prior to study entry
  • Patients who are primary English or French speakers are eligible

Key Exclusion Criteria

A patient will not be eligible for participation in this study if any of the following criteria apply.

  • Prior radiotherapy to the head or neck (except for T1 glottic cancer), resulting in overlap of radiation fields
  • Radiographic evidence of CNS metastases
  • Radiographic evidence of hydrocephalus
  • Planned concurrent chemotherapy or anti-tumor agent during PCI
  • Concomitant invasive malignancy or invasive malignancy within the past five years other than non-melanomatous skin cancer; history of in situ carcinoma (e.g. ductal carcinoma in situ of breast, in situ carcinoma of the cervix, vulva or larynx) is permitted
  • Contraindication to MR imaging, such as implanted metal devices or foreign bodies or severe claustrophobia
  • Severe, active comorbidity, defined as follows:
    • Unstable angina and/or congestive heart failure requiring hospitalization within the last 6 months
    • Transmural myocardial infarction within the last 6 months
    • Acute bacterial or fungal infection requiring intravenous antibiotics at the time of registration
    • Hepatic insufficiency resulting in clinical jaundice and/or coagulation defects
    •  Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease exacerbation or other respiratory illness requiring hospitalization or precluding study therapy at the time of registration
    • Uncontrolled, clinically significant cardiac arrhythmias
  • Women of childbearing potential and male participants who are sexually active and not willing/able to use medically acceptable forms of contraception

Learn More

To learn more, visit ClinicalTrials.Gov

Study Type

Phase II/III


NRG Oncology