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Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys. 1998 May 1;41(2):361-9.

Ethmoid sinus cancer: twenty-nine cases managed with primary radiation therapy.

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Department of Radiation Oncology, University of Toronto, Ontario Cancer Institute/Princess Margaret Hospital, Canada.



To describe the outcome of patients with carcinoma of the ethmoid sinus managed with a policy of primary radiation therapy with surgery for salvage of persistent or progressive disease.


A retrospective chart review was undertaken of 29 patients with the diagnosis of carcinoma of the ethmoid complex who underwent treatment in the period between January 1976 and December 1994 at the Princess Margaret Hospital. Analysis was confined to those patients with epithelial invasive histology (squamous carcinoma, adenocarcinoma, or undifferentiated carcinoma) managed with curative intent with primary radiation therapy. The median patient age was 62, with a median follow-up time of 4 years. Staging was assigned according to a modification of the UICC 1997 system with 19 (66%) of patients presenting with T4 category tumors. The most common radiation dose regimes were 60 Gy in 30 daily fractions over 6 weeks, or 50 Gy in 20 daily fractions over 4 weeks. Outcome was analyzed with respect to overall survival, cause-specific survival, and local progression-free survival. The influence of a variety of clinical and therapeutic factors on outcome is discussed, the patterns of disease failure are described, and the rationale for this treatment approach is outlined.


The 5-year rates of overall survival, cause-specific survival, and local progression-free survival were 39%, 58%, and 41%, respectively. A total of 18 of 29 patients died during the period of review. Of these, 12 deaths were due to ethmoid cancer, one was due to a second primary lung cancer, and five were attributed to nononcologic causes. No patients died due to treatment-related toxicity. Increasing T category predicted for worse outcome on univariate analysis. Local progression was the major cause of treatment failure and was documented in 15 of 29 patients treated (52%). Six patients were offered salvage surgery for local progression, of whom two remained disease free at 15 and 17 months follow-up.


Outcome of patients with ethmoid cancer managed with primary radiation therapy with surgery for salvage is comparable to that achieved with planned combined modality approaches. Nevertheless, outcome remains poor and is dependent on the local extent of tumor, with 40-50% of patients eventually succumbing to disease.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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