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Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys. 2009 May 1;74(1):1-8. doi: 10.1016/j.ijrobp.2008.07.059. Epub 2008 Dec 26.

Intensity-modulated radiotherapy reduces radiation-induced morbidity and improves health-related quality of life: results of a nonrandomized prospective study using a standardized follow-up program.

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  • 1Department of Radiation Oncology, VU University Medical Center, Amsterdam, the Netherlands.



The purpose of this study was to compare intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) and three-dimensional conventional radiotherapy (3D-CRT) with regard to patient-rated xerostomia, Radiation Therapy Oncology Group (RTOG) acute and late xerostomia and health-related quality of life (HRQoL) among patients with head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC).


Included were 241 patients with HNSCC treated with bilateral irradiation +/- chemotherapy. Since 2000, all patients treated with HNSCC were included in a program, which prospectively assessed acute and late morbidity according to the RTOG and HRQoL on a routine basis at regular intervals. Before October 2004, all patients were treated with 3D-CRT (N = 150). After clinical implementation in October 2004, 91 patients received IMRT. In this study, the differences regarding RTOG toxicity, xerostomia, and other items of HRQoL were analyzed.


The use of IMRT resulted in a significant reduction of the mean dose of the parotid glands (27 Gy vs. 43 Gy (p < 0.001). During radiation, Grade 2 RTOG xerostomia was significantly less with IMRT than with 3D-CRT. At 6 months, the prevalence of patient-rated moderate to severe xerostomia and Grade 2 or higher RTOG xerostomia was significantly lower after IMRT versus 3D-CRT. Treatment with IMRT also had a positive effect on several general and head and neck cancer-specific HRQoL dimensions.


IMRT results in a significant reduction of patient- and observer-rated xerostomia, as well as other head and neck symptoms, compared with standard 3D-CRT. These differences translate into a significant improvement of the more general dimensions of HRQoL.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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