Intratumoral injection of radioactive holmium-166 microspheres in recurrent head and neck squamous cell carcinoma: preliminary results of first use

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Abstract

Background

Limited treatment options exist for patients with locoregional recurrences of head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC). In the palliative setting, a single session, minimally invasive, and relatively safe therapy is desirable. This case series illustrates the feasibility of a direct intratumoral injection of radioactive holmium-166 microspheres (166HoMS) in patients as a palliative treatment for recurrent HNSCC.

Patients and methods

In this retrospective analysis, patients with already reirradiated irresectable recurrent HNSCC, for whom palliative chemotherapy was unsuccessful or impossible, were offered microbrachytherapy with 166HoMS. The intratumoral injection was administered manually under ultrasound guidance. Parameters scored were technical feasibility (i.e. administration, leakage, and distribution), clinical response (response evaluation criteria in solid tumors 1.1), and complications (Common Terminology Criteria for Adverse Events 4.3).

Results

From 2015 to 2017, three patients were treated. None of the patients experienced adverse events; however, therapeutic effects were minimal. Technical difficulties, including precipitating of microspheres and high intratumoral pressure, resulted in suboptimal distribution of the microspheres.

Conclusion

Intratumoral injections with 166HoMS are minimally invasive and relatively safe in palliation of HNSCC patients. Careful patient selection and improved administration techniques are required to provide a more effective treatment. Further investigation of this novel treatment modality should be carried out because of the absence of side effects and lack of other treatment options.

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