Semin Radiat Oncol. 2008 Jan;18(1):41-7.
Department of Radiation Oncology, Duke University School of Medicine, Durham, NC 27710, USA.
In ideal circumstances, the fractionation schedule of radiotherapy should match the fractionation sensitivity of the tumor relative to the nearby normal tissues. A number of recent publications have suggested that the alpha-beta ratio (alpha/beta) for prostate is low, in the range of 1 to 3 Gy. If alpha/beta is truly low, then hypofractionated schedules using fewer, larger fractions should improve the therapeutic ratio. This critical review examines the clinical experience with hypofractionation. Several prospective trials indicate that toxicity is limited with sophisticated dose delivery and compact clinical target volume to planning target volume margins, but the single-arm nature of these trials precludes definitive statements on efficacy. Several large randomized trials comparing conventional fractionation to hypofractionation are ongoing and are described. Until these trials are completed and the results submitted for rigorous peer review, the notion that alpha/beta for prostate cancer is low remains an unconfirmed hypothesis.