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Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys. 2000 Feb 1;46(3):551-7.

Treatment of locally advanced adenoid cystic carcinoma of the head and neck with neutron radiotherapy.

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Department of Radiation Oncology, University of Washington Medical Center, Seattle 98195-6043, USA.



To examine the efficacy of fast neutron radiotherapy for the treatment of locally advanced and/or recurrent adenoid cystic carcinoma of the head and neck and to identify prognostic variables associated with local-regional control and survival.


One hundred fifty-nine patients with nonmetastatic, previously unirradiated, locally advanced, and/or recurrent adenoid cystic carcinoma (ACC) of the head and neck region were treated with fast neutron radiotherapy during the years 1985-1997. One hundred fifty-one patients had either unresectable disease, or gross residual disease (GRD) after an attempted surgical extirpation. Eight patients had microscopic residual disease and were analyzed separately. Sixty-two percent of patients had tumors arising in minor salivary glands, 29% in major salivary glands, and 9% in other sites such as the lacrimal glands, tracheal-bronchial tree, etc. Fifty-five percent of patients were treated for postsurgical recurrent disease and 13% of patients had lymph node involvement at the time of treatment. The median duration of follow-up was 32 months (range 3-142 months). Actuarial curves for survival, cause-specific survival, local-regional control, and the development of distant metastases are presented for times out to 11 years.


The 5-year actuarial local-regional tumor control rate for the 151 patients with GRD was 57%; the 5-year actuarial overall survival rate was 72%; and the 5-year actuarial cause-specific survival rate was 77%. Variables associated with decreased local-regional control in the patients with GRD as determined by multivariate analysis included base of skull involvement (p < 0.01) and biopsy only versus an attempted surgical resection prior to treatment (p = 0.03). Patients without these negative factors had an actuarial local-regional control rate of 80% at 5 years. Patients with microscopic residual disease (n = 8) had a 5-year actuarial local-regional control rate of 100%. Base of skull involvement (p < 0.001), lymph node metastases at the time of treatment (p < 0.01), biopsy only prior to neutron radiotherapy (p = 0.03), and recurrent tumors (p = 0.04) were found to be associated with a diminished cause-specific survival as ascertained by multivariate analysis. Patients with base of skull involvement and positive lymph nodes at presentation had an increased rate of the development of distant metastases at 5 years, (p < 0.01 and p < 0.001, respectively). No statistical difference in outcome was observed between major and minor salivary gland sites.


Fast neutron radiotherapy is an effective treatment for locally advanced ACC of the head and neck region with acceptable toxicity. Further improvements in local-regional control are not likely to impact survival until more effective systemic agents are developed to prevent and/or treat distant metastatic disease.

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