Stereotactic body radiotherapy as primary therapy for head and neck cancer in the elderly or patients with poor performance

Front Oncol. 2014 Oct 8:4:274. doi: 10.3389/fonc.2014.00274. eCollection 2014.


Objective: Stereotactic body radiotherapy (SBRT) is increasingly used to treat a variety of tumors, including head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) in the recurrent setting. While there are published data for re-irradiation using SBRT for HNSCC, there are limited data supporting its use as upfront treatment for locally advanced disease.

Study design/methods: Here, we describe three patients who received SBRT as the primary treatment for their HNSCC along with a review of the current literature and discussion of future pathways.

Results: The three cases discussed tolerated treatment well with manageable acute toxicities and had either a clinical or radiographic complete response to therapy.

Conclusion: Head and neck squamous cell carcinoma presents a unique challenge in the elderly, where medical comorbidities make it difficult to tolerate conventional radiation, often given with a systemic sensitizer. For these individuals, providing a shortened course using SBRT may offer an effective alternative.

Keywords: elderly; head and neck cancer; poor KPS; stereotactic body radiotherapy.