A significant proportion of patients with head and neck squamous cell carcinoma are unsuitable for radical treatment due to factors including tumour stage, performance status and co-morbidity. Palliative radiotherapy has a useful role in the control of local symptoms. This study documented the outcome with split-course hypofractionated radiotherapy.
Thirty-three previously untreated patients with head and neck squamous cell carcinoma were treated with palliative intent with split-course radiotherapy, with an initial 20 Gy in five fractions over 1 week, a 2 week gap, and then a further 20 Gy in five fractions over 1 week at the Yorkshire Cancer Centre between January 2004 and December 2007. Data were collected retrospectively from case notes and radiotherapy records.
Thirty (91%) patients had stage IV A-B disease. World Health Organization performance status was 2 or 3 in 19 (58%) patients. The median age was 76 years (range 48-91 years). Twenty-five (76%) patients were men. Symptomatic improvement was reported in 26 (79%) patients at 4-6 weeks of follow-up. Thirteen (39%) patients had a complete tumour response and 11 (33%) patients had a partial response as assessed clinically, and in some cases radiologically. The median overall survival was 9 months (range 3-43 months). Progression-free survival at 1 and 2 years was 35 and 25%, respectively. Overall survival at 1 and 2 years was 42 and 34%, respectively. Treatment was generally well tolerated; admission for nasogastric feeding and/or supportive care was required in only six patients. Radiation Therapy Oncology Group grade 3 toxicity was documented for skin in one patient, for mucosa in two patients and for oesophagitis in three patients.
Split-course hypofractionated radiotherapy is an effective palliative regimen with acceptable toxicity.
Clinical Oncology 10/2010; 23(2):141-8. DOI:10.1016/j.clon.2010.09.006 · 2.83 Impact Factor