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Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys. 2011 Nov 15;81(4):e197-206. doi: 10.1016/j.ijrobp.2011.02.007. Epub 2011 May 17.

Predictors of IMRT and conformal radiotherapy use in head and neck squamous cell carcinoma: a SEER-Medicare analysis.

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  • 1Department of Radiation Oncology, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston, MA 02115, USA.



The extent to which new techniques for the delivery of radiotherapy for head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) have diffused into clinical practice is unclear, including the use of 3-dimensional conformal RT (3D-RT) and intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT).


Using the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER)-Medicare linked database, we identified 2,495 Medicare patients with Stage I-IVB HNSCC diagnosed at age 65 years or older between 2000 and 2005 and treated with either definitive (80%) or adjuvant (20%) radiotherapy. Our primary aim was to analyze the trends and predictors of IMRT use over this time, and the secondary aim was a similar description of the trends and predictors of conformal radiotherapy (CRT) use, defined as treatment with either 3D-RT or IMRT.


Three hundred sixty-four (15%) patients were treated with IMRT, and 1,190 patients (48%) were treated with 3D-RT. Claims for IMRT and CRT rose from 0% to 33% and 39% to 86%, respectively, between 2000 and 2005. On multivariable analysis, IMRT use was associated with SEER region (West 18%; Northeast 11%; South 12%; Midwest 13%), advanced stage (advanced, 21%; early, 9%), non-larynx site (non-larynx, 23%; larynx, 7%), higher median census tract income (highest vs. lowest quartile, 18% vs. 10%), treatment year (2003-2005, 31%; 2000-2002, 6%), use of chemotherapy (26% with; 9% without), and higher radiation oncologist treatment volume (highest vs. lowest tertile, 23% vs. 8%). With CRT as the outcome, only SEER region, treatment year, use of chemotherapy, and increasing radiation oncologist HNSCC volume were significant on multivariable analysis.


The use of IMRT and CRT by Medicare beneficiaries with HNSCC rose significantly between 2000 and 2005 and was associated with both clinical and non-clinical factors, with treatment era and radiation oncologist HNSCC treatment volume serving as the strongest predictors of IMRT use.

Copyright © 2011 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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