Radical external beam re-irradiation in the treatment of recurrent head and neck cancer: Critical review

Head and Neck Cancer

Head Neck. 2020 Sep 30. doi: 10.1002/hed.26485. Online ahead of print.


Management of patients with recurrent head and neck cancer remains a challenge for the surgeon as well as the treating radiation oncologist. Even in the era of modern radiotherapy, the rate of severe toxicity remains high with unsatisfactory treatment results. Intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT), stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT), and heavy-ion irradiation have all emerged as highly conformal and precise techniques that offer many radiobiological advantages in various clinical

situations. Although re-irradiation is now widespread in clinical practice, little is known about the differences in treatment response and toxicity using diverse re-irradiation techniques. In this review, we provide a comprehensive overview of the role of radiation therapy in recurrent or second primary head and neck cancer including patient selection, therapeutic outcome, and risk using different re-irradiation techniques. Critical review of published evidence on IMRT, SBRT, and heavy-ion full-dose re-irradiation is presented including data on locoregional control, overall survival, and toxicity.