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Open Access Research

Intensity modulated radiotherapy (IMRT) combined with concurrent but not adjuvant chemotherapy in primary nasopharyngeal cancer – a retrospective single center analysis

Ladan Saleh-Ebrahimi1, Felix Zwicker12, Marc W Muenter3, Marc Bischof2, Katja Lindel2, Juergen Debus12, Peter E Huber12 and Falk Roeder12*

Author Affiliations

1 Clinical Cooperation Unit Molecular and Radiation Oncology, German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ), Heidelberg, Germany

2 Department of Radiation Oncology, University of Heidelberg, Heidelberg, Germany

3 Department of Radiation Oncology, Katharinen-Hospital, Stuttgart, Germany

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Radiation Oncology 2013, 8:20  doi:10.1186/1748-717X-8-20

Published: 24 January 2013

Abstract

Background

We report our experience in 49 consecutive patients with nasopharyngeal carcinoma who were treated by Intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) combined with simultaneous but not adjuvant chemotherapy (CHT).

Methods

The medical records of 49 patients with histologically proven primary nasopharygeal carcinoma treated with IMRT and concurrent platin-based CHT (predominantly cisplatin weekly) were retrospectively reviewed. The majority of patients showed advanced clinical stages (stage III/IV:72%) with undifferentiated histology (82%). IMRT was performed in step-and-shoot technique using an integrated boost concept in 84%. In this concept, the boost volume covered the primary tumor and involved nodes with doses of 66–70.4 Gy (single dose 2.2 Gy). Uninvolved regional nodal areas were covered with doses of 54–59.4 Gy (median single dose 1.8 Gy). At least one parotid gland was spared. None of the patients received adjuvant CHT.

Results

The median follow-up for the entire cohort was 48 months. Radiation therapy was completed without interruption in all patients and 76% of the patients received at least 80% of the scheduled CHT. Four local recurrences have been observed, transferring into 1-, 3-, and 5-year Local Control (LC) rates of 98%, 90% and 90%. One patient developed an isolated regional nodal recurrence, resulting in 1-, 3-, and 5-year Regional Control (RC) rates of 98%. All locoregional failures were located inside the radiation fields. Distant metastases were found in six patients, transferring into 1-, 3, and 5-year Distant Control (DC) rates of 92%, 86% and 86%. Progression free survival (PFS) rates after 1, 3 and 5 years were 86%, 70% and 69% and 1-, 3- and 5-year Overall Survival (OS) rates were 96%, 82% and 79%. Acute toxicity ≥ grade III mainly consisted of dysphagia (32%), leukopenia (24%), stomatitis (16%), infection (8%) and nausea (8%). Severe late toxicity (grade III) was documented in 18% of the patients, mainly as xerostomia (10%).

Conclusion

Concurrent chemoradiation without the addition of adjuvant chemotherapy cycles using IMRT with an integrated boost concept yielded good disease control and overall survival in patients suffering from primary nasopharyngeal cancer with acceptable acute side effects and limited rates of late toxicity.

Keywords:
Nasopharyngeal cancer; IMRT; Concurrent chemotherapy