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Intensity-modulated radiotherapy may beat conventional approach in head, neck cancer patients

Thursday, January 13, 2011 (Last Updated: 01/14/2011)

THURSDAY, Jan. 13 (HealthDay News) -- Parotid-sparing intensity-modulated radiotherapy (IMRT) is less likely than conventional radiotherapy to result in dry mouth in patients treated for head and neck cancer, according to research published online Jan. 13 in The Lancet Oncology.

Christopher M. Nutting, M.D., of the Royal Marsden Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust in London, and colleagues randomized 94 patients with pharyngeal squamous-cell carcinoma to IMRT or conventional radiotherapy to test their hypothesis that IMRT reduces the incidence of severe xerostomia.

The researchers found that, of the patients available for analysis at 12 months, 38 percent of those in the IMRT group reported grade 2 or worse xerostomia, compared with 74 percent of the conventional radiotherapy group. By 24 months, 29 percent of the IMRT group and 83 percent of the conventional radiotherapy group reported grade 2 or worse xerostomia. The IMRT group had a higher prevalence of grade 2 or worse fatigue, but there were no significant differences between the two groups in terms of non-xerostomia late toxicities, locoregional control, or overall survival.

"Sparing the parotid glands with IMRT significantly reduces the incidence of xerostomia and leads to recovery of saliva secretion and improvements in associated quality of life, and thus strongly supports a role for IMRT in squamous-cell carcinoma of the head and neck," the authors write.

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Specialties Hematology & Oncology
OBGYN & Women's Health
Family Practice
Internal Medicine

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