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Oncotarget. 2018 Jun 5;9(43):26980-26989. doi: 10.18632/oncotarget.23723. eCollection 2018 Jun 5.

Optimization of cervical lymph node clinical target volume delineation in nasopharyngeal carcinoma: a single center experience and recommendation.

Li L1,2, Li Y1,2, Zhang J1,2, Wu Q1,2, Yu H1,2, Li Z1,2, Xie C1,2, Zhou Y1,2, Zhong Y1,2.

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Department of Radiation and Medical Oncology, Zhongnan Hospital of Wuhan University, Wuhan, Hubei, China.
Hubei Cancer Clinical Study Center, Wuhan University, Wuhan, Hubei, China.


Nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC) are characterized by distinct lymph node metastasis patterns. In order to minimize cervical lymph node irradiation volume, 379 NPC patients with metastatic cervical lymph nodes were eligible for geographic mapping. All lymph nodes were mapped into simulation computed tomography images of a template lymph node negative patient. The proportions of retropharyngeal lymph nodes (RLNs), Level Ib, II, III, IV, Va, Vb and supraclavicular (SCV) lymph nodes were 6.9%, 0.5%, 55.25%, 20.4%, 8.2%, 4.9%, 3.1% and 0.75%, respectively. Based on their distribution profile, we proposed the following modifications: 1. the lateral border of RLNs clinical target volume (CTV) be the medial edge of the internal carotid artery above the level of mastoid process, the medial border be adjacent to the cervical vessels below the free edge of the soft palate; 2. the submandibular gland should not be included in Level Ib; 3. Level II should include the posterior belly of digastric muscle, and the space between the posterior edge of submandibular gland and the anterior edge of sternocleidomastoid muscle; 4. the anterior border of Level III and IV should gradually shift backwards and the CTV only include part of the cervical vessels below the level where the thyroid gland appears; 5. the space of the posterior edge of trapezius muscle also should be included if there are metastatic lymph nodes in the transverse cervical vessle plexus. Our recommendations might adequately encompass metastatic lymph nodes while sparing the organs at risk and reducing adverse events.


cervical lymph node; clinical target volume; intensity-modulated radiation therapy; nasopharyngeal carcinoma

Conflict of interest statement

CONFLICTS OF INTEREST The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

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