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Clin Radiol. 2007 Mar;62(3):195-203.

Delayed complications of radiotherapy treatment for nasopharyngeal carcinoma: imaging findings.

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Department of Diagnostic Radiology and Organ Imaging, Faculty of Medicine, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Prince of Wales Hospital, Shatin, New Territories, Hong Kong, S.A.R., China.


Radiotherapy is used to treat a wide variety of head and neck tumours that arise in and around the skull base. The delayed effects of radiation damages a range of structures, including the nervous system, bone, major vessels, mucus membranes, pituitary and salivary glands, as well as increasing the risk of radiation-induced neoplasms. In this review the complications resulting from radiation treatment for nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC), a cancer treated with a high dose of radiation to a fairly large region, are illustrated. Many patients with NPC have a long-term survival, so are at risk of developing delayed radiation effects, and hence may demonstrate a wide range of complications on imaging. Other tumours around the skull base treated with radiotherapy include meningiomas, chordomas, chondrosarcomas, pituitary adenomas, paranasal sinus and nasal cavity tumours. In these cases similar complications may be encountered on imaging, although the severity, incidence and location will vary.

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