Phase I trial of dose-escalated stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS) boost for unfavorable locally advanced oropharyngeal cancer

Radiat Oncol. 2020 Dec 11;15(1):278. doi: 10.1186/s13014-020-01718-w.


Background and purpose: Patients with locally advanced oropharynx squamous cell carcinoma have suboptimal outcomes with standard chemoradiation. Here, we evaluated toxicity and oncologic outcomes of dose escalation using radiosurgical boost for patients with unfavorable oropharynx squamous cell carcinoma.

Materials and methods: Between 2010-2017, Thirty four patients with intermediate- or high-risk oropharynx squamous cell carcinoma were enrolled onto this prospective phase I trial. Each patient received concurrent cisplatin and fractionated radiotherapy totaling 60 Gy or 66 Gy followed by radiosurgery boost to areas of residual gross tumor: single fraction of 8 Gy or 10 Gy, or two fractions of 5 Gy each. Primary endpoint was treatment toxicity. Secondary endpoints were local, regional, and distant disease control.

Results: Eleven, sixteen and seven patients received radiosurgery boost with 8 Gy in 1 fraction, 10 Gy in 1 fraction, and 10 Gy in 2 fractions respectively. Acute toxicities include 4 patients with tumor necrosis causing grade 3 dysphagia, of which 3 developed grade 4 pharyngeal hemorrhage requiring surgical intervention. At 24 months after treatment, 7%, 9%, and 15% had grade 2 dysgeusia, xerostomia, and dysphagia, respectively, and two patients remained feeding tube dependent. No grade 5 toxicities occurred secondary to treatment. Local, regional, and distant control at a median follow up of 4.2 years were 85.3%, 85.3% and 88.2%, respectively. Five patients died resulting in overall survival of 85.3%.

Conclusions: This study is the first to report the use of radiosurgery boost dose escalation in patients with unfavorable oropharynx squamous cell carcinoma. Longer follow-up, larger cohorts, and further refinement of boost methodology are needed prior to implementation in routine clinical practice.

Trial registration: Northwell Health Protocol #09-309A (NCT02703493) ( ).

Keywords: Dose escalation; Head-and-neck; Oropharynx; Radiosurgery; SRS.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial, Phase I

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Oropharyngeal Neoplasms / mortality
  • Oropharyngeal Neoplasms / radiotherapy*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Radiosurgery / adverse effects
  • Radiosurgery / methods*
  • Radiotherapy Dosage
  • Radiotherapy Planning, Computer-Assisted
  • Radiotherapy, Intensity-Modulated
  • Squamous Cell Carcinoma of Head and Neck / mortality
  • Squamous Cell Carcinoma of Head and Neck / radiotherapy*

Associated data