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Keywords:

  • Head and neck;
  • radiation therapy;
  • quality of life;
  • chemotherapy;
  • hypopharynx;
  • Level of Evidence: 2c.

Abstract

Objectives/Hypothesis:

The main goal of the current study was to comprehensively address the impact of chemoradiation and radiation techniques on toxicity, quality of life (QoL), and functional outcome.

Study Design:

Retrospective analysis of toxicity and functional outcome and prospective QoL assessment.

Methods:

From 1996 to 2010, 176 consecutive patients with hypopharyngeal cancer (HPC) were treated with (chemo)radiotherapy. End points were acute and late toxicity, QoL assessment, and functional outcome using laryngoesophageal dysfunction-free survival (LED-FS) defined by the Laryngeal Preservation Consensus Panel.

Results:

Chemoradiation significantly increased grade 3 acute toxicity compared to radiotherapy alone (71% vs. 55%, P = .02). The 3-year grade ≥2 late toxicity was 32%. Intensity-modulated radiotherapy (IMRT) significantly reduced late toxicity compared to three-dimensional conformal radiotherapy (3DCRT) (24% vs. 44%, P = .007). Slight deterioration in QoL scores was observed on almost all scales, and was more pronounced in patients treated with chemoradiation, albeit not statistically significant except for xerostomia. Chemoradiation, compared to radiotherapy alone, improved LED-FS at 3 years (51% vs. 24% for the entire group and 83% vs. 63% for the 78 living patients at last follow-up, respectively [P = .05]).

Conclusions:

Compared to radiotherapy alone, chemoradiation significantly improved functional outcome, increased acute toxicity, but without significant increase in late radiation-induced side effects. Statistically significant deterioration in QoL scores was reported only for xerostomia. IMRT, compared to 3DCRT, reduced the incidence and severity of acute and late toxicity, thereby broadening the therapeutic window, and may allow dose escalation for further improvement of outcomes of laryngeal preservation protocols.