The multidisciplinary management of paragangliomas of the head and neck, Part 2

Oncology (Williston Park). 2003 Aug;17(8):1143-53; discussion 1154, 1158, 1161.


Paragangliomas most commonly occur in the carotid body, jugulotympanic area, and vagus nerve but have also been reported in other areas of the head and neck. These tumors are highly vascular and characteristically have early blood vessel and neural involvement, making their treatment particularly challenging. Surgery has traditionally been the preferred method of treatment, especially in light of recent advances in technique. However, compared to radiation therapy, it can result in a higher incidence of cranial nerve dysfunction. Radiation therapy has the advantage of avoiding the increased morbidity of surgery while offering an equal possibility of cure. Part 2 of this article discusses radiation therapy as primary treatment of patients who are ineligible for surgery and the elderly and infirm. Results with radiotherapy are comparable to those achieved with surgery. The efficacy of salvage therapy with either surgery or radiation is discussed, and a treatment algorithm for these tumors is proposed.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / radiotherapy*
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / surgery
  • Humans
  • Paraganglioma / radiotherapy*
  • Paraganglioma / surgery
  • Radiosurgery
  • Radiotherapy / adverse effects
  • Salvage Therapy
  • Treatment Outcome