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Strahlenther Onkol. 2012 Aug;188(8):671-6. doi: 10.1007/s00066-012-0127-y. Epub 2012 May 13.

Methods for estimating the site of origin of locoregional recurrence in head and neck squamous cell carcinoma.

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Department of Radiation Oncology Section 3994, Rigshospitalet, University of Copenhagen, Blegdamsvej 9, 2100, Copenhagen, Denmark.



Methods to estimate the likely origin of recurrences after radiation therapy for head and neck squamous cell carcinoma are compared.


A total of 25 patients meeting the following inclusion criteria were randomly selected: curatively intended intensity-modulated radiotherapy planned on a positron emission tomography-computed tomography (PET/CT) scan during the period 2005-2009; squamous cell carcinoma in the oral cavity, pharynx or larynx; complete clinical response followed by locoregional recurrence; and a CT scan at recurrence before any salvage therapy. Exclusion criteria were previous cancer in the area, surgery prior to radiotherapy, or a synchronous cancer. Three methods of estimating focal points of recurrence origin and two volume overlap methods assigning the recurrences to the most central target volumes encompassing at least 50% or 95% of the recurrence volumes were tested. Treatment planning and recurrence scans were rigid and deformable co-registered in order to transfer focal points to the treatment planning scan. Double determinations of all volumes, points, and co-registrations were made.


The volume overlap methods assigned the recurrences to significantly more peripheral target volumes than focal methods (p < 0.0001 for all comparisons of 95% overlap vs. focal methods, p < 0.028 for all comparisons of 50% overlap vs. focal methods). Repeated registrations of the same point had higher reproducibility with deformable registration than with rigid registration (median distance 0.31 vs. 0.35 cm, p = 0.015). No significant differences were observed among the focal methods.


Significant differences between methods were found which may affect strategies to improve radiotherapy based on pattern of failure analyses.

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