Introduction: HIV infection is associated with increased treatment-related toxicity and worse outcomes in locally advanced cervical cancer patients (LACC), especially in resource-constrained settings. Local control (LC) in a phase III randomized, controlled trial investigating modulated electro-hyperthermia (mEHT) on LACC patients in South Africa (ethics registration: M120477/M190295), was significantly higher in participants randomized to receive chemoradiotherapy (CRT) with mEHT compared to CRT alone (stratum: HIV status, accounting for age and stage). This analysis investigates whether mEHT adds to the toxicity profile of CRT in HIV-positive LACC participants.
Methods: Inclusion criteria: signed informed consent; International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics stages IIB to IIIB squamous cell carcinoma of the cervix; HIV-positive patients: CD4 count >200 cell/mL/on antiretroviral treatment for >6 months; eligible for CRT with radical intent. Recruitment: January 2014 to November 2017 (ClinicalTrials.gov: NCT03332069). Acute toxicity (evaluated using CTCAE v4 criteria) and quality of life (according to EORTC forms) in 206 participants randomized for treatment were evaluated alongside the LC results to determine safety and efficacy in HIV-positive participants.
Results: Compliance to mEHT treatment was high (97% completed 8 treatments) with no significant differences in CRT-related toxicity between treatment groups or between HIV-positive and -negative participants. Adverse events attributed to mEHT were minor, even in obese patients, and did not affect CRT compliance. Participants treated with mEHT reported improved fatigue, pain, emotional and cognitive functioning.
Conclusion: mEHT did not cause unexpected CRT-related toxicities and is a safe treatment modality for HIV-positive patients, with minor limitations regarding body weight, even in a low-resource setting.