Quantifying fibrosis in head and neck cancer treatment: An overview

Head Neck. 2015 Aug;37(8):1225-31. doi: 10.1002/hed.23722. Epub 2014 Jul 11.


Background: Fibrosis is a common late complication of radiotherapy and/or surgical treatment for head and neck cancers. Fibrosis is difficult to quantify and formal methods of measure are not well recognized. The purpose of this review was to summarize the methods available to quantify neck fibrosis.

Methods: A PubMed search of articles was carried out using key words "neck" and "fibrosis."

Results: Many methods have been used to assess fibrosis, however, there is no preferred methodology. Specific to neck fibrosis, most studies have relied upon hand palpation rating scales. Indentation and suction techniques have been used to mechanically quantify neck fibrosis. There is scope to develop applications of ultrasound, dielectric, bioimpedance, and MRI techniques for use in the neck region.

Conclusion: Quantitative assessment of neck fibrosis is sought after in order to compare treatment regimens and improve quality of life outcomes in patients with head and neck cancer.

Keywords: fibrosis; head and neck cancer; neck; radiotherapy.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Body Composition
  • Elasticity Imaging Techniques / methods
  • Electric Impedance
  • Fibrosis / etiology
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / radiotherapy*
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Muscle Stretching Exercises
  • Neck / pathology*
  • Neck Dissection
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Quality of Life
  • Radiation Injuries / diagnosis*
  • Radiation Injuries / diagnostic imaging
  • Radiotherapy, Adjuvant / adverse effects*
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Shear Strength
  • Spectrum Analysis
  • Suction / methods