Head & Neck Cancer: Sophisticated Radiation herapy Improves Survival

radiation therapy linear accelerator

What You Need to Know: Patients with head and neck cancers treated with intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) experience significant improvements in cause-specific survival (CSS) compared with patients treated with non-IMRT techniques, according to a study published online Jan. 13 in Cancer.

The Evidence: Beth M. Beadle, MD, PhD, from the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, and colleagues compared the cause-specific survival for 3,172 patients with head and neck cancers treated with IMRT versus non-IMRT from 1999 to 2007. Information on CSS was extracted from the US Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results-Medicare database.

Results:

  • Over a median follow-up of 40 months, patients treated with IMRT had a statistically significant improvement in CSS compared with those treated with non-IMRT (84.1% versus 66.0%; P < 0.001). 
  • All subgroups of patients treated with IMRT had better CSS than those treated with non-IMRT, when each body subsite in the head and neck region was analyzed separately.
  • Patients treated with IMRT were associated with better CSS (hazard ratios, 0.72 for propensity score matching and 0.60 for instrumental variable analysis), in multivariable survival analyses.

“This suggests there may be benefits to IMRT in cancer outcomes, in addition to toxicity reduction, for this patient population,” the researchers wrote.

My Take: IMRT can not only reduce the side effects associated with radaition therapy, but appears to improve survival among those with cancer of the head and neck region. I’m Dr. Michael Hunter.

Reference: Beadle BM, Liao KP, Elting LS, et al. Improved survival using intensity-modulated radiation therapy in head and neck cancers: A SEER-Medicare analysis. Cancer. 2014;diu:10.1002/cncr.28372.

The small print: The material presented herein is informational only, and is not designed to provide specific guidance for an individual. Please check with a valued health care provider with any questions or concerns. As for me, I am a Harvard- , Yale- and UPenn-educated radiation oncologist, and I practice in the Seattle, WA (USA) area. I feel genuinely privileged to be able to share with you. If you enjoyed today’s offering, please consider clicking the follow button at the bottom of this page.

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understandcancerin60minutes

Harvard AB Yale MD UPenn Radiation Oncology Radiation Oncologist, Seattle area

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