Clinical treatment considerations in the intensity-modulated radiotherapy era for parotid lymph node metastasis in patients with nasopharyngeal carcinoma

Radiother Oncol. 2023 Sep:186:109802. doi: 10.1016/j.radonc.2023.109802. Epub 2023 Jul 7.


Purpose: No specific irradiation guidelines have been proposed for parotid lymph node (PLN) metastasis in patients with nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC). This study aimed to explore the dose prescription and target delineation for PLN metastasis in patients with NPC.

Methods: With the NPC database from a big-data platform, 10,685 patients with primarily diagnosed, non-distant metastatic, histologically proven NPC and treated with intensity modulated radiotherapy (IMRT) at our center from 2008 to 2019 were reviewed and those with PLN metastasis were enrolled in this study. Dosimetry parameters were collected from the dose-volume histograms (DVH). The primary endpoint was overall survival (OS). Least absolute shrinkage and selection operator regression (LASSO) was operated for variable selection. Multivariate Cox regression analysis was applied to identify the independent prognostic factors.

Results: PLN metastases were identified in 275/10685 (2.5%) patients. Of 367 positive PLN, 199 were in superficial intra-parotid, followed by 70 in deep intra-parotid, 54 in subparotid and 44 in subcutaneous pre-auricular. Better survival outcome was observed in PLN-radical IMRT group, compared with PLN-sparing group. In 190 patients received PLN-radical IMRT, multivariate analysis revealed that D95% of level VIII > 55 Gy was an independent beneficial prognostic factor for overall survival (OS), progression-free survival (PFS), distant metastasis-free survival (DMFS), and parotid relapse-free survival (PRFS).

Conclusion: Based on the distribution pattern of PLN metastasis in NPC and the result of dose-finding study, involving the ipsilateral level VIII into low-risk clinical target volume (CTV2) is recommended for NPC with PLN metastasis.

Keywords: Dose prescription; Nasopharyngeal carcinoma; Parotid lymph node metastasis; Target delineation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Carcinoma* / pathology
  • Carcinoma* / radiotherapy
  • Humans
  • Lymph Nodes / pathology
  • Lymphatic Metastasis / pathology
  • Lymphatic Metastasis / radiotherapy
  • Nasopharyngeal Carcinoma / pathology
  • Nasopharyngeal Carcinoma / radiotherapy
  • Nasopharyngeal Neoplasms* / pathology
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local / pathology
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Prognosis
  • Radiotherapy, Intensity-Modulated*
  • Retrospective Studies