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Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys. 2010 Mar 15;76(4):1140-6. doi: 10.1016/j.ijrobp.2009.03.025. Epub 2009 Jun 27.

High-dose-rate intraoperative radiation therapy for recurrent head-and-neck cancer.

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  • 1Department of Radiation Oncology, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York, NY 10021, USA.



To report the use of high-dose-rate intraoperative radiation therapy (HDR-IORT) for recurrent head-and-neck cancer (HNC) at a single institution.


Between July 1998 and February 2007, 34 patients with recurrent HNC received 38 HDR-IORT treatments using a Harrison-Anderson-Mick applicator with Iridium-192. A single fraction (median, 15 Gy; range, 10-20 Gy) was delivered intraoperatively after surgical resection to the region considered at risk for close or positive margins. In all patients, the target region was previously treated with external beam radiation therapy (median dose, 63 Gy; range, 24-74 Gy). The 1- and 2-year estimates for in-field local progression-free survival (LPFS), locoregional progression-free survival (LRPFS), distant metastases-free survival (DMFS), and overall survival (OS) were calculated.


With a median follow-up for surviving patients of 23 months (range, 6-54 months), 8 patients (24%) are alive and without evidence of disease. The 1- and 2-year LPFS rates are 66% and 56%, respectively, with 13 (34%) in-field recurrences. The 1- and 2-year DMFS rates are 81% and 62%, respectively, with 10 patients (29%) developing distant failure. The 1- and 2-year OS rates are 73% and 55%, respectively, with a median time to OS of 24 months. Severe complications included cellulitis (5 patients), fistula or wound complications (3 patients), osteoradionecrosis (1 patient), and radiation-induced trigeminal neuralgia (1 patient).


HDR-IORT has shown encouraging local control outcomes in patients with recurrent HNC with acceptable rates of treatment-related morbidity. Longer follow-up with a larger cohort of patients is needed to fully assess the benefit of this procedure.

Copyright 2010 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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