Introduction: A significant part of patients with head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) develop recurrent disease after curative radiotherapy. We aimed to analyze loco-regional recurrence pattern by identifying possible points of recurrence origin by three different methods in relation to treatment volumes.
Material and methods: A total of 455 patients completed IMRT-based treatment for HNSCC from 2006 to 2012. A total of 159 patients had remaining cancer after IMRT, developed loco-regional recurrence or distant disease during follow-up. Among those, 69 patients with loco-regional recurrences had affirmative CT or PET/CT scan. Possible points of origin (POs) of the recurrences were identified on scans by two independent observers, estimated as center of mass and as maximum surface distance. The recurrence position was analyzed in relation to high-dose treatment volume (CTV1) and 95% of prescription dose.
Results: In total, 104 loco-regional recurrences (54 in T-site and 50 in N-site) were identified in 69 patients. Median time to recurrence for the 69 patients was 10 months. No clinically relevant difference was found between the four POs, with standard deviation between POs in x, y and z axes of 3, 3 and 6 mm. For recurrences inside CTV1, 0-5 mm and 5-10 mm outside CTV1 the standard deviation of dose differences between the POs were 1, 1.4 and 1 Gy, respectively. 56% and 25% of T-site and N-site recurrences were inside CTV1, respectively. Coverage by 95% prescription dose to high-dose treatment volume was achieved in 78% of T-site and 39% of N-site recurrences.
Conclusions: For recurrences identified by possible points of recurrence origin, no significant difference between observer-based or mathematically estimated methods was found. More than half of T-site recurrences were inside high-dose treatment volume, whereas N-site recurrences were mainly outside.