Reirradiation of Head and Neck Cancers With Proton Therapy: Outcomes and Analyses

Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys. 2016 Sep 1;96(1):30-41. doi: 10.1016/j.ijrobp.2016.03.053. Epub 2016 Apr 13.


Purpose: Reirradiation of head and neck (H&N) cancer is a clinical challenge. Proton radiation therapy (PRT) offers dosimetric advantages for normal tissue sparing and may benefit previously irradiated patients. Here, we report our initial experience with the use of PRT for H&N reirradiation, with focus on clinical outcomes and toxicity.

Methods and materials: We retrospectively reviewed the records of patients who received H&N reirradiation with PRT from April 2011 through June 2015. Patients reirradiated with palliative intent or without prior documentation of H&N radiation therapy were excluded. Radiation-related toxicities were recorded according to the Common Terminology Criteria for Adverse Events Version 4.0.

Results: The conditions of 60 patients were evaluated, with a median follow-up time of 13.6 months. Fifteen patients (25%) received passive scatter proton therapy (PSPT), and 45 (75%) received intensity modulated proton therapy (IMPT). Thirty-five patients (58%) received upfront surgery, and 44 (73%) received concurrent chemotherapy. The 1-year rates of locoregional failure-free survival, overall survival, progression-free survival, and distant metastasis-free survival were 68.4%, 83.8%, 60.1%, and 74.9%, respectively. Eighteen patients (30%) experienced acute grade 3 (G3) toxicity, and 13 (22%) required a feeding tube at the end of PRT. The 1-year rates of late G3 toxicity and feeding tube independence were 16.7% and 2.0%, respectively. Three patients may have died of reirradiation-related effects (1 acute and 2 late).

Conclusions: Proton beam therapy can be a safe and effective curative reirradiation strategy, with acceptable rates of toxicity and durable disease control.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Causality
  • Combined Modality Therapy / mortality
  • Combined Modality Therapy / statistics & numerical data
  • Comorbidity
  • Disease-Free Survival
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / mortality*
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local / mortality*
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local / prevention & control
  • Palliative Care / statistics & numerical data
  • Prevalence
  • Prognosis
  • Proton Therapy / mortality*
  • Proton Therapy / statistics & numerical data
  • Radiation Injuries / mortality*
  • Radiation Injuries / prevention & control
  • Radiotherapy, Conformal / mortality
  • Radiotherapy, Conformal / statistics & numerical data
  • Re-Irradiation / mortality*
  • Re-Irradiation / statistics & numerical data
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Survival Analysis
  • Texas / epidemiology
  • Treatment Outcome