Current treatment options for recurrent nasopharyngeal cancer

Eur Arch Otorhinolaryngol. 2010 Dec;267(12):1811-24. doi: 10.1007/s00405-010-1385-x. Epub 2010 Sep 24.


Loco-regional control rate of nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC) has improved significantly in the past decade. However, local recurrence still represents a major cause of mortality and morbidity in advanced stages, and management of local failure remains a challenging issue in NPC. The best salvage treatment for local recurrent NPC remains to be determined. The options include brachytherapy, external radiotherapy, stereotactic radiosurgery, and nasopharyngectomy, either alone or in different combinations. In this article we will discuss the different options for salvage of locally recurrent NPC. Retreatment of locally recurrent NPC using radiotherapy, alone or in combination with other treatment modalities, as well as surgery, can result in long-term local control and survival in a substantial proportion of patients. For small-volume recurrent tumors (T1-T2) treated with external radiotherapy, brachytherapy or stereotactic radiosurgery, comparable results to those obtained with surgery have been reported. In contrast, treatment results of advanced-stage locally recurrent NPC are generally more satisfactory with surgery (with or without postoperative radiotherapy) than with reirradiation.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Humans
  • Nasopharyngeal Neoplasms / mortality
  • Nasopharyngeal Neoplasms / pathology
  • Nasopharyngeal Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local / mortality
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local / pathology
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local / therapy*
  • Pharyngectomy
  • Salvage Therapy
  • Treatment Outcome