Send to

Choose Destination
Curr Treat Options Oncol. 2005 Jan;6(1):31-45.

Impact of anemia in patients with head and neck cancer treated with radiation therapy.

Author information

The Charles and Bernice Blitman Department of Radiation Oncology, Beth Israel Medical Center, 10 Union Square East, New York, NY 10003, USA.


Locoregional recurrence remains a major obstacle to achieving a cure of locally advanced head and neck cancers, despite multimodality therapy. Multiple studies report that a low hemoglobin (Hgb) before or during radiation therapy is an important risk factor for poor locoregional disease control and survival. Anemia is common in the head and neck cancer population and is suspected to contribute to intratumoral hypoxia with resultant radioresistance. Although having a low Hgb level has been shown to be detrimental, it is unclear as to exactly what the threshold should be for low Hgb (studies in this area have used thresholds ranging from 9-14.5 g/dL). Quality-of-life studies suggest that correction of moderately severe anemia may result in significant gains. Optimal Hgb levels for improving outcomes may vary across and within tumor types, and this is an area that requires further evaluation. However, the correction of anemia may be a worthwhile strategy for radiation oncologists to improve local control and survival. This article reviews the impact of anemia on outcomes after radiotherapy of head and neck cancers.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Loading ...
Support Center