A phase III randomized prospective trial of external beam radiotherapy, mitomycin C, carmustine, and 6-mercaptopurine for the treatment of adults with anaplastic glioma of the brain

Edward C. Halperin, James Herndon, S. Clifford Schold, Mark Brown, Nicholas Vick, J. Gregory Cairncross, David R. Macdonald, Laurie Gaspar, Barbara Fischer, Edward Dropcho, Steven Rosenfeld, Richard Morowitz, Joseph Piepmeier, William Hait, Thomas Byrne, Merle Salter, Joseph Imperato, Janardan Khandekar, Nina Paleologos, Peter BurgerGunilla C. Bentel, Allan Friedman

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Purpose: This study was designed to evaluate strategies to overcome the resistance of anaplastic gliomas of the brain to external beam radiotherapy (ERT) plus carmustine (BCNU). Patients were ≥ 15 years of age, had a histologic diagnosis of malignant glioma, and a Karnofsky performance status (KIPS) ≥ 60%. Methods and Materials: In Randomization 1, patients were assigned to receive either ERT alone (61.2 Gy) or ERT plus mitomycin C (Mito, IV 12.5 mg/m2) during the first and fourth week of ERT. After this treatment, patients went on to Randomization 2, where they were assigned to receive either BCNU (i.v. 200 mg/m2) given at 6-week intervals or 6- mercaptopurine (6-MP, 750 mg/m2 IV daily for 3 days every 6 weeks), with BCNU given on the third day of the 6-MP treatment. Three hundred twenty- seven patients underwent Randomization 1. One hundred sixty-four received ERT alone, and 163 received ERT + Mito [average age 52.7 years; 63% male; 69% glioblastoma multiforme (GBM); 66% had a resection; 56% KPS ≥ 90%]. Step- wise analysis of survival from Randomization 1 or 2 indicates that survival was significantly diminished by: (a) age ≥ 45 years (b) KIPS < 90%; (c) GBM/Gliosarcoma histology; (d) stereotactic biopsy as opposed to open biopsy or resection. Median survival from Randomization 1 in both arms (ERT + Mito) was 10.8 months. Median survival from Randomization 2 was 93 months for BCNU/6MP vs. 11.4 months for the BCNU group (p = 0.35). Carmustine/6-MP showed a possible survival benefit for histologies other than GBM/GS. Two hundred and thirty-three patients underwent Randomization 2. The proportion of patients in the ERT group who terminated study prior to Randomization 2 was significantly less in the ERT group than in the ERT + Mito group (20 vs. 37%, p < 0.001). Conclusions: (a) The addition of Mito to ERT had no impact on survival; (b) patients treated with ERT + Mito were at greater risk of terminating therapy prior to Randomization 2; (c) there was not a significant survival benefit in the addition of 6-MP to BCNU.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)793-802
Number of pages10
JournalInternational Journal of Radiation Oncology Biology Physics
Issue number4
StatePublished - Mar 1 1996



  • 6- Mercaptopurine
  • BCNU
  • Brain neoplasms
  • CNS neoplasms
  • Carmustine
  • Chemotherapy
  • Gliomas
  • Mitomycin C
  • Radiation therapy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiation
  • Oncology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Cancer Research

Cite this

Halperin, E. C., Herndon, J., Schold, S. C., Brown, M., Vick, N., Cairncross, J. G., Macdonald, D. R., Gaspar, L., Fischer, B., Dropcho, E., Rosenfeld, S., Morowitz, R., Piepmeier, J., Hait, W., Byrne, T., Salter, M., Imperato, J., Khandekar, J., Paleologos, N., ... Friedman, A. (1996). A phase III randomized prospective trial of external beam radiotherapy, mitomycin C, carmustine, and 6-mercaptopurine for the treatment of adults with anaplastic glioma of the brain. International Journal of Radiation Oncology Biology Physics, 34(4), 793-802. https://doi.org/10.1016/0360-3016(95)02025-X