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Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys. 1987 Apr;13(4):511-6.

A retrospective study of three treatment techniques for T1-T2 base of tongue lesions: surgery plus postoperative radiation, external radiation plus interstitial implantation and external radiation alone.


One hundred and ten patients with base of tongue tumors less than or equal to 4 cm in diameter (T1 and T2 by the UICC staging system) were treated according to three different methods; surgery followed by external radiation in 27 cases, external radiation followed by interstitial implantation in 29 cases, and external radiation alone in 54 cases. The median follow-up is 8 years with a minimum of 4 years. Local failure occurred twice as often in patients treated by external radiation alone (43%) compared to the other two therapeutic modalities (20.5% for external radiation plus implantation and 18.5% for surgery plus radiation). Ninety per cent of recurrences occurred within the first 2 years. The 5-year survival rate for N0 and N1 nodal disease is 30.5% for patients treated by external radiation alone and 50% for the other two methods. This survival difference is related to poorer local control. Surgery plus external radiation gives identical results to those of external radiation and interstitial implantation, but surgery is only practical for peripheral base of tongue tumors and it has poorer functional results. External radiation followed by interstitial implantation is, in our opinion, the best of the three therapeutic techniques for T1 and T2 base of tongue tumors.

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