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Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys. 2008 Nov 15;72(4):1119-27. doi: 10.1016/j.ijrobp.2008.02.061. Epub 2008 May 28.

Treatment techniques and site considerations regarding dysphagia-related quality of life in cancer of the oropharynx and nasopharynx.

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  • 1Department of Radiation Oncology, Erasmus Medical Center - Daniel den Hoed, Rotterdam, The Netherlands.



To assess the relationship for oropharyngeal (OP) cancer and nasopharyngeal (NP) cancer between the dose received by the swallowing structures and the dysphagia related quality of life (QoL).


Between 2000 and 2005, 85 OP and 47 NP cancer patients were treated by radiation therapy. After 46 Gy, OP cancer is boosted by intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT), brachytherapy (BT), or frameless stereotactic radiation/cyberknife (CBK). After 46 Gy, the NP cancer was boosted with parallel-opposed fields or IMRT to a total dose of 70 Gy; subsequently, a second boost was given by either BT (11 Gy) or stereotactic radiation (SRT)/CBK (11.2 Gy). Sixty OP and 21 NP cancer patients responded to functional and QoL questionnaires (i.e., the Performance Status Scales, European Organization for Research and Treatment of Cancer H&N35, and M.D. Anderson Dysphagia Inventory). The swallowing muscles were delineated and the mean dose calculated using the original three-dimensional computed tomography-based treatment plans. Univariate analyses were performed using logistic regression analysis.


Most dysphagia problems were observed in the base of tongue tumors. For OP cancer, boosting with IMRT resulted in more dysphagia as opposed to BT or SRT/CBK. For NPC patients, in contrast to the first booster dose (46-70 Gy), no additional increase of dysphagia by the second boost was observed.


The lowest mean doses of radiation to the swallowing muscles were achieved when using BT as opposed to SRT/CBK or IMRT. For the 81 patients alive with no evidence of disease for at least 1 year, a dose-effect relationship was observed between the dose in the superior constrictor muscle and the "normalcy of diet" (Performance Status Scales) or "swallowing scale" (H&N35) scores (p < 0.01).

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