Role of stereotactic body radiotherapy for symptom control in head and neck cancer patients Academic Article uri icon

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  • PURPOSE: Our aim was to determine the efficacy and quality of life outcomes of head and neck (HN) stereotactic body radiotherapy (SBRT) in a palliative population with significant proportions of de novo HN tumors not amenable to surgery or protracted course of curative radiotherapy (RT). METHODS: A retrospective review of a prospective database identified 21 patients with 24 sites that were treated. Patients were treated with intensity modulated RT (IMRT), usually 7-9 static fields with a 2-3-mm margin from gross tumor volume to planning target volume only with no microscopic margin added. Electronic patient records and treatment plans were reviewed. Basic demographic information was collected. The EORTC QLQ-H&N35 questionnaire was the tool used to collect QOL data both pre- and on-treatment fraction 5. Univariate analysis was performed for predictors of local control (LC) and prognostic factors for overall survival (OS). RESULTS: A total of 21 patients had 24 sites that were treated. The median age was 87 (range 25-103) and median KPS was 70. The most common histology was squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) 19/24 (79 %), basal cell carcinoma (BCC) 3/24 (16 %), and melanoma (4 %). The median maximal diameter was 3.7 cm (range 1-10 cm). The most commonly treated site was lymph nodes in the neck 13/24 (54 %), skin 8/24 (33 %), 4/24 (16 %) other HN mucosal primary sites. Of the 24 lesions, 17 (71 %) were de novo, without prior treatment and 7/24 (29 %) were recurrent. The most commonly used dose/fraction (fx) was 40 Gy/5 (fx) (range 35/5fx-48/6fx). Of the 24 lesions, 6 (25 %) had complete response, 16/24 (67 %) had partial response, and 2/24 (8 %) had no response. Control was defined as no further progression after treatment. For the entire cohort, LC at 3, 6, and 9 months were 66, 50, and 33 %, respectively. In the de novo group, 2/16 (12.5 %) had local failures with the LC rate of 94, 94, and 87 % at 3 months, 6 months, and 1 year, respectively. In the recurrent group, 4/8 (50 %) had failure with LC rates of 87. 5, 62.5, and 50 % at 3 months, 6 months, and 1 year, respectively. Of the 21 patients, 10 died during follow up, with the OS rate at 3 months, 6 months, and 1 year of 90, 70, and 60 %, respectively. Being defined "de novo" showed a trend toward statistical significance p = 0.046 for local failure. Overall survival did not show significant difference between de novo and recurrent with a p value of 0.267. No significant prognostic variables for OS were found. Pre-treatment QOL scores for the entire cohort were 53/130 versus 38/130 (lower scores indicating better QOL) scores with a trend toward statistical significance p = 0.05. CONCLUSIONS: SBRT is efficacious with improved quality of life within this elderly frail population in the treatment of de novo and recurrent tumors of the head and neck with promising quality of life scores.


  • Khan, Luluel
  • Tjong, Michael
  • Raziee, Hamid
  • Lee, Justin
  • Erler, Darby
  • Chin, Lee
  • Poon, Ian

publication date

  • April 2015

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