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Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys. 2007 Apr 1;67(5):1309-17. Epub 2007 Feb 7.

Impact of intensity-modulated radiotherapy on health-related quality of life for head and neck cancer patients: matched-pair comparison with conventional radiotherapy.

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Department of Radiation Oncology, Alexis Vautrin Center, Vandoeuvre-Lès-Nancy, France.



To assess the benefit of intensity-modulated radiotherapy (IMRT) compared with conventional RT for the quality of life (QOL) of head and neck cancer survivors.


Cross-sectional QOL measures (European Organization for Research and Treatment of Cancer QOL questionnaire C30 and head and neck cancer module) were used with a French multicenter cohort of patients cured of head and neck cancer (follow-up > or = 1 year) who had received bilateral neck RT (> or = 45 Gy) as a part of their initial treatment. We compared the QOL mean scores regarding RT modality (conventional RT vs. IMRT). The patients of the two groups were matched (one to one) according to the delay between the end of RT and the timing of the QOL evaluation and the T stage. Each QOL item was divided into two relevant levels of severity: "not severe" (responses, "not at all" and "a little") vs. "severe" (responses "quite a bit" and "very much"). The association between the type of RT and the prevalence of severe symptoms was approximated, through multivariate analysis using the prevalence odds ratio.


Two comparable groups (67 pairs) were available. Better scores were observed on the head and neck cancer module QOL questionnaire for the IMRT group, especially for dry mouth and sticky saliva (p < 0.0001). Severe symptoms were more frequent with conventional RT concerning saliva modifications and oral discomfort. The adjusted prevalence odds ratios were 3.17 (p = 0.04) for dry mouth, 3.16 (p = 0.02) for sticky saliva, 3.58 (p = 0.02) for pain in the mouth, 3.35 (p = 0.04) for pain in the jaw, 2.60 (p = 0.02) for difficulties opening the mouth, 2.76 (p = 0.02) for difficulties with swallowing, and 2.68 (p = 0.03) for trouble with eating.


The QOL assessment of head and neck cancer survivors demonstrated the benefit of IMRT, particularly in the areas of salivary dysfunction and oral discomfort.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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