When treating tumors in the head and neck, long-term side effects include dry mouth, difficulty swallowing, speech impairment, and trouble with taste and thyroid issues. This lowers patients’ quality of life, prompting researchers to find therapies that reduce these side effects. According to a study presented by lead author Anthony Cmelak, MD, research suggests that some patients with HPV-positive oropharyngeal cancer may have improved outcomes as well as fewer long-term side effects when their doses of radiation therapy are lowered. Patients with HPV-positive oropharyngeal cancer were given induction chemotherapy with paclitaxel, cisplatin, and cetuximab. Sixty-two out of the 80 patients showed no sign of cancer after chemotherapy, and they received a 25% lower dose of intensity-modulated radiation therapy, which targets the tumor more accurately so that the surrounding tissue is not harmed. The remaining 18 patients were given the standard intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) dose. Both groups received cetuximab as well. It was found that patients in the low-dose IMRT group had a 93% survival rate 2 years after treatment. Coupled with a minimal smoking history, these patients had high rates of tumor control and a great reduction in long-term side effects. Cmelak said that this treatment of lower-dose IMRT is not recommended for patients with HPV-negative oropharyngeal cancer or bigger tumors.
A new study suggests that lowering the dose of radiation therapy for some head and neck cancer patients may improve outcomes and cause fewer long-term side effects. The research was presented by lead author Anthony Cmelak, MD, professor of Radiation Oncology at Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center, during the 50th annual meeting of the American Society ofkeep reading “.