Volume, Dose, and Fractionation Considerations for IMRT-based Reirradiation in Head and Neck Cancer: A Multi-institution Analysis

Academic Article


  • Purpose: Limited data exist to guide the treatment technique for reirradiation of recurrent or second primary squamous carcinoma of the head and neck. We performed a multi-institution retrospective cohort study to investigate the effect of the elective treatment volume, dose, and fractionation on outcomes and toxicity. Methods and Materials: Patients with recurrent or second primary squamous carcinoma originating in a previously irradiated field (≥40 Gy) who had undergone reirradiation with intensity modulated radiation therapy (IMRT); (≥40 Gy re-IMRT) were included. The effect of elective nodal treatment, dose, and fractionation on overall survival (OS), locoregional control, and acute and late toxicity were assessed. The Kaplan-Meier and Gray's competing risks methods were used for actuarial endpoints. Results: From 8 institutions, 505 patients were included in the present updated analysis. The elective neck was not treated in 56.4% of patients. The median dose of re-IMRT was 60 Gy (range 39.6-79.2). Hyperfractionation was used in 20.2%. Systemic therapy was integrated for 77.4% of patients. Elective nodal radiation therapy did not appear to decrease the risk of locoregional failure (LRF) or improve the OS rate. Doses of ≥66 Gy were associated with improvements in both LRF and OS in the definitive re-IMRT setting. However, dose did not obviously affect LRF or OS in the postoperative re-IMRT setting. Hyperfractionation was not associated with improved LRF or OS. The rate of acute grade ≥3 toxicity was 22.1% overall. On multivariable logistic regression, elective neck irradiation was associated with increased acute toxicity in the postoperative setting. The rate of overall late grade ≥3 toxicity was 16.7%, with patients treated postoperatively with hyperfractionation experiencing the highest rates. Conclusions: Doses of ≥66 Gy might be associated with improved outcomes in high-performance patients undergoing definitive re-IMRT. Postoperatively, doses of 50 to 66 Gy appear adequate after removal of gross disease. Hyperfractionation and elective neck irradiation were not associated with an obvious benefit and might increase toxicity.
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    Author List

  • Caudell JJ; Ward MC; Riaz N; Zakem SJ; Awan MJ; Dunlap NE; Isrow D; Hassanzadeh C; Vargo JA; Heron DE
  • Start Page

  • 606
  • End Page

  • 617
  • Volume

  • 100
  • Issue

  • 3