Increased local failure risk with prolonged radiation treatment time in head and neck cancer treated with concurrent chemotherapy

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Background.Prolonged radiation treatment time (RTT) in head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) is associated with inferior tumor control in patients treated with radiation therapy (RT) alone. However, the significance of prolonged RTT with concurrent chemotherapy is less clear.Methods.We reviewed outcomes for 171 patients with primary HNSCC treated with curative intent RT and concurrent drug therapy from 2001 to 2009. The effects of RTT and other variables on local control and survival were analyzed.Results.Patients with RTT >7 weeks had a significantly increased risk of local failure (hazard ratio [HR], 2.6; p = .018) and death (HR, 1.9 p = .035). These results retained significance even after adjustment for tumor stage (age was not significant).Conclusion.For patients treated with concurrent chemoradiotherapy (chemoRT), prolonged RTT may compromise tumor control as has been established in the setting of RT alone. Symptoms of patients with HNSCC undergoing definitive chemoRT should be managed aggressively to limit treatment interruptions. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Head Neck 36: 1120–1125, 2014

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