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J Clin Oncol. 2010 Jun 1;28(16):2732-8. doi: 10.1200/JCO.2009.24.6199. Epub 2010 Apr 26.

Intensity-modulated chemoradiotherapy aiming to reduce dysphagia in patients with oropharyngeal cancer: clinical and functional results.

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  • 1Department of Radiation Oncology, University of Michigan, 1500 E Medical Center Drive, Ann Arbor, MI 48109, USA.



To assess clinical and functional results of chemoradiotherapy for oropharyngeal cancer (OPC), utilizing intensity-modulated radiotherapy (IMRT) to spare the important swallowing structures to reduce post-therapy dysphagia.


This was a prospective study of weekly chemotherapy (carboplatin dosed at one times the area under the curve [AUC, AUC 1] and paclitaxel 30 mg/m(2)) concurrent with IMRT aiming to spare noninvolved parts of the swallowing structures: pharyngeal constrictors, glottic and supraglottic larynx, and esophagus as well as the oral cavity and major salivary glands. Swallowing was assessed by patient-reported Swallowing and Eating Domain scores, observer-rated scores, and videofluoroscopy (VF) before therapy and periodically after therapy through 2 years.


Overall, 73 patients with stages III to IV OPC participated. At a median follow-up of 36 months, 3-year disease-free and locoregional recurrence-free survivals were 88% and 96%, respectively. All measures of dysphagia worsened soon after therapy; observer-rated and patient-reported scores recovered over time, but VF scores did not. At 1 year after therapy, observer-rated dysphagia was absent or minimal (scores 0 to 1) in all patients except four: one who was feeding-tube dependent and three who required soft diet. From pretherapy to 12 months post-therapy, the Swallowing and Eating Domain scores worsened on average (+/- standard deviation) by 10 +/- 21 and 13 +/- 19, respectively (on scales of 0 to 100), and VF scores (on scale of 1 to 7) worsened from 2.9 +/- 1.5 (mild dysphagia) to 4.1 +/- 0.9 (mild/moderate dysphagia).


Chemoradiotherapy with IMRT aiming to reduce dysphagia can be performed safely for OPC and has high locoregional tumor control rates. On average, long-term patient-reported, observer-rated, and objective measures of swallowing were only slightly worse than pretherapy measures, representing potential improvement compared with previous studies.

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