The role of brachytherapy in the treatment of squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck

Eur Arch Otorhinolaryngol. 2016 Feb;273(2):269-76. doi: 10.1007/s00405-014-3332-8. Epub 2014 Oct 22.


Brachytherapy is a form of intensive local irradiation, allowing effective protection of surrounding structures with preservation of organ function and results in a favorable therapeutic ratio. It can be used alone, adjuvantly after surgery, and as a local boost in combination with external-beam radiation therapy. This paper is a literature review on the role of brachytherapy in the management of head and neck cancers with a special emphasis on papers published in the last 5 years. Technical details, effectiveness and potential toxicities of brachytherapy when used in different combinations with other therapeutic modalities and tumor sites are presented. Brachytherapy is an attractive treatment option in the management of primary malignancies and recurrent tumors in previously irradiated areas of the head and neck. It is effective and safe, and results in good functional and oncological outcomes.

Keywords: Brachytherapy; HDR; Head and neck cancers; PDR; Squamous cell carcinoma.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Brachytherapy / methods*
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / radiotherapy*
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / radiotherapy*
  • Humans
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local / radiotherapy
  • Radiotherapy Dosage
  • Squamous Cell Carcinoma of Head and Neck