Adaptive radiotherapy for virally mediated head and neck cancer : predicting which patients may benefit most

Brown, Elizabeth, Porceddu, Sandro, Owen, Rebecca, & Harden, Fiona (2012) Adaptive radiotherapy for virally mediated head and neck cancer : predicting which patients may benefit most. In International Society of Radiograpgy and Radiation Therapy World Conference 2012, 7-10 June 2012, Toronto, Canada.


Background: Recent clinical studies have demonstrated an emerging subgroup of head and neck cancers that are virally mediated. This disease appears to be a distinct clinical entity with patients presenting younger and with more advanced nodal disease, having lower tobacco and alcohol exposure and highly radiosensitive tumours. This means they are living longer, often with the debilitating functional side effects of treatment. The primary objective of this study was to determine how virally mediated nasopharyngeal and oropharyngeal cancers respond to radiation therapy treatment. The aim was to determine risk categories and corresponding adaptive treatment management strategies to proactively manage these patients.

Method/Results: 121 patients with virally mediated, node positive nasopharyngeal or oropharyngeal cancer who received radiotherapy treatment with curative intent between 2005 and 2010 were studied. Relevant patient demographics including age, gender, diagnosis, TNM stage, pre-treatment nodal size and dose delivered was recorded. Each patient’s treatment plan was reviewed to determine if another computed tomography (re-CT) scan was performed and at what time point (dose/fraction) this occurred. The justification for this re-CT was determined using four categories: tumour and/or nodal regression, weight loss, both or other.

Patients who underwent a re-CT were further investigated to determine whether a new plan was calculated. If a re-plan was performed, the dosimetric effect was quantified by comparing dose volume histograms of planning target volumes and critical structures from the actual treatment delivered and the original treatment plan.

Preliminary results demonstrated that 25/121 (20.7%) patients required a re-CT and that these re-CTs were performed between fractions 20 to 25 of treatment. The justification for these re-CTs consisted of a combination of tumour and/or nodal regression and weight loss. 16/25 (13.2%) patients had a replan calculated. 9 (7.4%) of these replans were implemented clinically due to the resultant dosimetric effect calculated.

The data collected from this assessment was statistically analysed to identify the major determining factors for patients to undergo a re-CT and/or replan. Specific factors identified included nodal size and timing of the required intervention (i.e. how when a plan is to be adapted). This data was used to generate specific risk profiles that will form the basis of a biologically guided adaptive treatment management strategy for virally mediated head and neck cancer.

Conclusion: Preliminary data indicates that virally mediated head and neck cancers respond significantly during radiation treatment (tumour and/or nodal regression and weight loss). Implications of this response are the potential underdosing or overdosing of tumour and/or surrounding critical structures. This could lead to sub-optimal patient outcomes and compromised quality of life. Consequently, the development of adaptive treatment strategies that improve organ sparing for this patient group is important to ensure delivery of the prescribed dose to the tumour volume whilst minimizing the dose received to surrounding critical structures. This could reduce side effects and improve overall patient quality of life. The risk profiles and associated adaptive treatment approaches developed in this study will be tested prospectively in the clinical setting in Phase 2 of this investigation.

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ID Code: 57062
Item Type: Conference Item (Poster)
Refereed: Yes
Keywords: Radiation Therapy, Head and neck cancer, Adaptive
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES (110000) > CLINICAL SCIENCES (110300) > Clinical Sciences not elsewhere classified (110399)
Divisions: Current > Schools > School of Clinical Sciences
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Health
Current > Institutes > Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2012 The Authors
Deposited On: 08 Feb 2013 00:44
Last Modified: 08 Feb 2013 00:44

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