Background and purpose: Intensity modulated radiotherapy (IMRT) allows the delivery of higher and more homogeneous radiation dose to head and neck tumours. This study aims to determine the safety of dose-escalated chemo-IMRT for larynx preservation in locally advanced head and neck cancer.
Methods: Patients with T2-4, N1-3, M0 squamous cell carcinoma of the larynx or hypopharynx were treated with a simultaneous-boost IMRT. Two radiation dose levels (DL) were tested: In DL 1, 63 Gy/28F was delivered to primary tumour and involved nodes and 51.8 Gy/28F to elective nodes. In DL 2, the doses were 67.2 Gy/28F and 56 Gy/28F, respectively, representing a 9% dose escalation for the primary. All patients received 2 cycles of neoadjuvant cisplatin and 5-fluorouracil, and concomitant cisplatin. Acute (NCICTCv.2.0) and late toxicity (RTOG and modified LENTSOM) were collected.
Results: Thirty patients were entered, 15 in each dose level. All patients completed the treatment schedule. In DL 1, the incidences of acute G3 toxicities were 27% (pain), 20% (radiation dermatitis), 0% (xerostomia) and 67% required gastrostomy tubes. For DL 2 the corresponding incidences were 40%, 20%, 7%, and 87%. G3 dysphagia and pain persisted longer in DL 2. With regard to mucositis, a prolonged healing time for DL 2 was found, with prevalence of G2 of 58% in week 10. No acute grade 4 toxicity was observed. At 6 months, 1 patient in DL 2 had G3 late toxicity (dysphagia). No dose limiting toxicity was found. Complete response rates were 80% in DL 1, and 87% in DL 2.
Conclusion: Moderately accelerated chemo-IMRT is safe and feasible with good compliance and acceptable acute toxicity. Dose escalation was possible without a significant difference in acute toxicity. Longer follow-up is required to determine the incidence of late radiation toxicities, and tumour control rates.