The 40-year history of hypoxic cell sensitisation can be traced from hyperbaric oxygen to the present clinical studies with carbogen, nicotinamide and accelerated radiotherapy. A meta-analysis by Overgaard (1995) included 10703 cases entered into 83 randomised controlled trials and showed an overall improvement in local tumour control of 4.6% (P = 0.00001) and in survival of 2.8% (P = 0.005). Hyperbaric oxygen gave a 6.6% (P = 0.003) improvement in local control and hypoxic cell sensitisers 3.9% (P = 0.04). Despite this, the only hypoxic cell-sensitising method in routine clinical use is the giving of nimorazole in supraglottic and pharyngeal carcinomas. Acute, as well as chronic hypoxia has been recognised and nicotinamide, the amide derivative of B3 is believed to prevent the former. Thus ARCON (accelerated radiotherapy, carbogen and nicotinamide) has been introduced in the clinic in an effort to overcome tumour proliferation, chronic and acute hypoxia, respectively. The success of future randomised controlled trials would be improved greatly if methods were available to measure the concentration of hypoxic cells in tumours before treatment and thus select those where benefit may be gained. The use of ARCON recognises that tumour cell proliferation is an important cause of failure in addition to hypoxia. However, intrinsic radiosensitivity may also need to be taken into account in the future. Clinical trials aim to improve the therapeutic ratio and thus the study of morbidity is as important as local tumour control. International collaboration is essential if randomised controlled trials are to be carried out within reasonable periods of time.

Saunders, Dische, , , , , , , (1996). Clinical results of hypoxic cell radiosensitisation from hyperbaric oxygen to accelerated radiotherapy, carbogen and nicotinamide. The British journal of cancer. Supplement, 1996 Jul;27():S271-8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8763896