Reirradiation of Recurrent and Second Primary Head and Neck Malignancies: A Comprehensive Review

Cancer Treat Rev. 2003 Feb;29(1):21-30. doi: 10.1016/s0305-7372(02)00096-8.


The management of locoregionally recurrent or second primary tumors in a previously irradiated head and neck volume presents a challenging clinical problem. Only a small subset of patients are candidates for potentially curative surgery. Chemotherapy alone provides only limited palliation with no long term survivors. Reirradiation, particularly with aggressive concomitant chemotherapy, results in prolonged median survival and long term survival for some patients. The toxicity of reirradiation, while greater than chemotherapy alone or primary irradiation, is lower than expected for the high cumulative radiation doses. The results of reirradiation in recurrent head and neck cancer and the prognostic factors predicting outcome in this patient population are reviewed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols / therapeutic use
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / pathology
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / radiotherapy*
  • Humans
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local / drug therapy
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local / radiotherapy*
  • Neoplasms, Second Primary / drug therapy
  • Neoplasms, Second Primary / pathology
  • Neoplasms, Second Primary / radiotherapy*
  • Prognosis
  • Survival