The impact of concurrent granulocyte macrophage-colony stimulating factor on radiation-induced mucositis in head and neck cancer patients: A double-blind placebo-controlled prospective Phase III study by Radiation Therapy Oncology Group 9901

Janice K. Ryu, Suzanne Swann, Francis LeVeque, Charles W. Scarantino, Darlene Johnson, Allan Chen, Andre Fortin, Jon David Pollock, Harold Kim, Kian K. Ang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

50 Scopus citations


Purpose: Based on early clinical evidence of potential mucosal protection by granulocyte-macrophage colony stimulating factor (GM-CSF), the Radiation Therapy Oncology Group conducted a double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized study to test the efficacy and safety of GM-CSF in reducing the severity and duration of mucosal injury and pain (mucositis) associated with curative radiotherapy (RT) in head-and-neck cancer patients. Methods and Materials: Eligible patients included those with head-and-neck cancer with radiation ports encompassing >50% of oral cavity and/or oropharynx. Standard RT ports were used to cover the primary tumor and regional lymphatics at risk in standard fractionation to 60-70 Gy. Concurrent cisplatin chemotherapy was allowed. Patients were randomized to receive subcutaneous injection of GM-CSF 250 μg/m2 or placebo 3 times a week. Mucosal reaction was assessed during the course of RT using the National Cancer Institute Common Toxicity Criteria and the protocol-specific scoring system. Results: Between October 2000 and September 2002, 130 patients from 36 institutions were accrued. Nine patients (7%) were excluded from the analysis, 3 as a result of drug unavailability. More than 80% of the patients participated in the quality-of-life endpoint of this study. The GM-CSF did not cause any increase in toxicity compared with placebo. There was no statistically significant difference in the average mean mucositis score in the GM-CSF and placebo arms by a t test (p = 0.4006). Conclusion: This placebo-controlled, randomized study demonstrated no significant effect of GM-CSF given concurrently compared with placebo in reducing the severity or duration of RT-induced mucositis in patients undergoing definitive RT for head-and-neck cancer.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)643-650
Number of pages8
JournalInternational Journal of Radiation Oncology Biology Physics
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1 2007



  • GM-CSF
  • Head-and-neck cancer
  • Radiation mucositis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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

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