Fistula formation after postoperative radiation treatment for paranasal sinus cancer

Am J Clin Oncol. 2008 Apr;31(2):199-204. doi: 10.1097/COC.0b013e31815aff43.


Postoperative radiation is frequently used in the treatment paradigm for paranasal sinus tumors. The development of 3-dimensional conformal radiation treatment and intensity modulated radiotherapy (IMRT) has facilitated the delivery of high doses required for local control of these lesions while simultaneously decreasing toxicity. At Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, a radiation dose of 70 Gy is routinely prescribed to gross tumor, and 59.4 Gy is prescribed to a clinical target volume at high risk for subclinical disease and 54 Gy is delivered to a clinical target volume at low risk for subclinical disease. Fistula formation can occur with the delivery of postoperative radiation treatment despite the use of IMRT. Prosthesis fabrication can be used in the short-term management of this unfortunate complication with an acceptable cosmetic result. Patients should be aware of this potential toxicity, which can develop in spite of appropriate management and acceptable dosimetry. Nonetheless, combined modality therapy is recommended for aggressive treatment of paranasal sinus tumors to inhibit local progression. This report describes the clinical scenario and management of the rare incidence of fistula formation after radiation for paranasal sinus malignancy.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cutaneous Fistula / etiology
  • Fistula / etiology*
  • Fistula / pathology
  • Fistula / therapy
  • Humans
  • Oral Fistula / etiology
  • Oroantral Fistula / etiology
  • Paranasal Sinus Diseases / etiology*
  • Paranasal Sinus Diseases / pathology
  • Paranasal Sinus Diseases / therapy
  • Paranasal Sinus Neoplasms / pathology
  • Paranasal Sinus Neoplasms / radiotherapy*
  • Prostheses and Implants
  • Radiotherapy, Adjuvant / adverse effects
  • Radiotherapy, Conformal / adverse effects*
  • Radiotherapy, Intensity-Modulated / adverse effects