Due to the close spatial relationship of head and neck and skull base tumors to numerous normal anatomical structures, conventional photon radiation therapy can be associated with significant acute and long-term treatment-related toxicities. Superior dose localization properties of proton radiation therapy allow smaller volumes of normal tissues to be irradiated than is feasible with any photon technique. Intensity-modulated proton therapy (IMPT) is a powerful delivery technique which results in improved dose distribution as compared to that of intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT). Initial clinical experience with proton radiation therapy in treatment of head and neck and skull base tumors is promising. Prospective multi-institutional trials are underway to define the role of proton radiation therapy, particularly IMPT, in the treatment of head and neck and skull base tumors.
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