Factors associated with severe late toxicity after concurrent chemoradiation for locally advanced head and neck cancer: an RTOG analysis

J Clin Oncol. 2008 Jul 20;26(21):3582-9. doi: 10.1200/JCO.2007.14.8841. Epub 2008 Jun 16.


Purpose: Concurrent chemoradiotherapy (CCRT) for squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck (SCCHN) increases both local tumor control and toxicity. This study evaluates clinical factors that are associated with and might predict severe late toxicity after CCRT.

Methods: Patients were analyzed from a subset of three previously reported Radiation Therapy Oncology Group (RTOG) trials of CCRT for locally advanced SCCHN (RTOG 91-11, 97-03, and 99-14). Severe late toxicity was defined in this secondary analysis as chronic grade 3 to 4 pharyngeal/laryngeal toxicity (RTOG/European Organisation for the Research and Treatment of Cancer late toxicity scoring system) and/or requirement for a feeding tube >or= 2 years after registration and/or potential treatment-related death (eg, pneumonia) within 3 years. Case-control analysis was performed, with a multivariable logistic regression model that included pretreatment and treatment potential factors.

Results: A total of 230 patients were assessable for this analysis: 99 patients with severe late toxicities and 131 controls; thus, 43% of assessable patients had a severe late toxicity. On multivariable analysis, significant variables correlated with the development of severe late toxicity were older age (odds ratio 1.05 per year; P = .001); advanced T stage (odds ratio, 3.07; P = .0036); larynx/hypopharynx primary site (odds ratio, 4.17; P = .0041); and neck dissection after CRT (odds ratio, 2.39; P = .018).

Conclusion: Severe late toxicity after CCRT is common. Older age, advanced T-stage, and larynx/hypopharynx primary site were strong independent risk factors. Neck dissection after CCRT was associated with an increased risk of these complications.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols / adverse effects*
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / pathology
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / therapy*
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Female
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / pathology
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Radiotherapy / adverse effects*
  • Risk Factors