(HealthDay News) — For patients with incurable head and neck cancer, high-dose hypofractionated radiotherapy (RT) is associated with meaningful palliative effect, according to a study published online September 2 in Head & Neck.

Kirsty M. van Beek, MD, from the Radboud University Medical Center in the Netherlands, and colleagues conducted a retrospective study to examine the efficacy and tolerability of high-dose hypofractionated RT in patients with head and neck cancer. Eighty-one patients were treated with two- and three-dimensional (3D)-RT or intensity-modulated radiotherapy (IMRT).

The researchers found that a palliative effect occurred in 63% of patients, which lasted for a median of 4.6 months. The palliative effect was associated with tumor response (P=0.006). Within the cohort, the median overall survival was 7.2 months. Patients treated with 2D/3D-RT more often had confluent mucositis than those treated with IMRT (44 vs. 26%; P=0.04), which lasted for a median of two weeks.

“High-dose hypofractionated RT resulted in meaningful palliation in 63%, lasting for almost five months,” the authors write. “IMRT should be the technique of choice, as it results in less high-grade toxicity.”

Full Text (subscription or payment may be required)