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Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys. 1993 Feb 15;25(3):505-12.

Transpalatal insertion of radioactive gold grain for the treatment of persistent and recurrent nasopharyngeal carcinoma.

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Department of Radiotherapy and Oncology, University of Hong Kong, Queen Mary Hospital.



To evaluate the efficacy of radioactive gold grain implant via the split palate approach in the control of locally recurrent or persistent nasopharyngeal carcinoma.


Forty-three patients, 10 for persistent NPC, 28 for first relapse in the nasopharynx, and five for second relapse in the nasopharynx, were treated. The diameter of the tumors at the time of gold grain implant ranged from 0.5 to 5 cm, the number of gold grains inserted varied from 4 to 14, the median number was seven.


There was no significant difference in the control of the primary tumor for persistent disease (80% at 5 years), first relapse (61% at 5 years) and second relapse (80% at 3 years), p = 0.8845. The difference in survival between the three subgroups of patients, however, was highly significant (p = 0.0040). Thirty patients had CT evaluation before gold grain implant and the tumor was found confined to the nasopharynx in 21, in the remaining nine patients erosion of the sphenoid sinus or other parts of the base of skull was noted. The difference in the control between those patients with tumors confined to the nasopharynx and those patients with extranasopharyngeal extension of tumor almost reached statistical significance (81% and 44% respectively at 5 years, p = 0.0554). For the six patients who developed local recurrence after gold grain implant and were evaluable for the pattern of failure, the recurrent tumors were considered originating from another region of the nasopharynx in four, and in-field failure in the other two cases.


Radioactive gold grain implant as salvage treatment provides satisfactory control of persistent and recurrent nasopharyngeal carcinoma. The local control was better when the tumor was localized to the nasopharynx, thus underlines the importance of close follow-up for early recognition of relapse and persistent tumor. However, such patients still suffered from high incidence of regional and distant failure, the pathophysiology and management of which require further investigation.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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