Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Advanced radiation techniques reduce side effects in head and neck cancer treatment

Date:
May 17, 2010
Source:
University of Michigan Health System
Summary:
Researchers have applied advanced radiation techniques for head and neck cancer to avoid treating critical structures that affect swallowing and eating. A new study shows these principles and techniques treated the cancer effectively while greatly reducing long-term swallowing complications.

Researchers at the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center have applied advanced radiation techniques for head and neck cancer to avoid treating critical structures that affect swallowing and eating. A new study shows these principles and techniques treated the cancer effectively while greatly reducing long-term swallowing complications.

The researchers applied highly conformal, intensity-modulated radiation therapy and knowledge of the anatomy and physiology of the structures involved to carefully craft a novel treatment plan that avoids certain muscles in the mouth and throat that are most involved in swallowing. Generally, head and neck tumors do not spread to these structures.

Of the 73 patients treated with this technique, all but four were eating a normal diet after their treatment ended and only one was dependent on a feeding tube. Typically up to 20 percent of head and neck cancer patients remain dependent on a feeding tube after finishing an intensive course of radiation treatment concurrent with chemotherapy.

Results of the study appear online in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

"More aggressive treatments for head and neck cancer have improved cancer control, but at the expense of quality of life. In this study, we did not compromise tumor control and we were able to improve this important quality of life measure," says study author Avraham Eisbruch, M.D., professor of radiation oncology at the U-M Medical School.

Scar tissue from radiation treatments to the head and neck often creates long-term problems with swallowing and eating solid foods that do not improve over time. In this study, 29 percent of the patients required a temporary feeding tube during treatment because of pain while swallowing. But by one year after treatment, only one of the 73 patients on the study still required a feeding tube. Questionnaires to assess eating and swallowing function showed that on average, patients had only slight difficulties up to two years after treatment.

No patients had a spread of their cancer to the untreated structures and few cancers recurred overall, suggesting it was not harmful to avoid treating these areas. After three years, 88 percent of patients were cancer-free.

Eisbruch and his colleagues were also leaders in pioneering head and neck radiation treatments that avoid the salivary glands, reducing significantly the severity of permanently dry mouth, which has previously been a major complication of radiotherapy for head and neck cancer.

"We seek a cure for these patients, but we also seek quality of life. As cure rates have improved in recent years, quality of life issues become more and more important. Our next steps are to identify which patients are likely to do well with treatment and reduce the intensity of treatment to limit the burden of these side effects," Eisbruch says.

The study looked at 73 patients with stage III or stage IV oropharyngeal cancer, including cancer of the tonsils or the base of the tongue. Patients were treated with seven weeks of daily intensity-modulated radiation therapy to the neck, designed to avoid the swallowing structures. Chemotherapy was administered weekly during this time. Patients were assessed with videofluoroscopy, an imaging procedure, periodically during treatment and up to two years after to assess swallowing. Swallowing was also assessed by doctors and through patient report using standard questionnaires.

Head and neck cancer statistics: 35,720 Americans will be diagnosed with head and neck cancer this year and 7,600 will die from the disease, according to the American Cancer Society

Additional U-M authors include Felix Y. Feng, M.D.; Hyungjin M. Kim, Sc.D.; Teresa H. Lyden, M.A.; Marc J. Haxer, M.A.; Francis P. Worden, M.D.; Mary Feng, M.D.; Jeffrey S. Moyer, M.D.; Mark E. Prince, M.D.; Thomas E. Carey, Ph.D.; Gregory T. Wolf, M.D.; Carol R. Bradford, M.D.; Douglas B. Chepeha, M.D.

Funding was provided by the National Institutes of Health and Newman Family Foundation.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Michigan Health System. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. F. Y. Feng, H. M. Kim, T. H. Lyden, M. J. Haxer, F. P. Worden, M. Feng, J. S. Moyer, M. E. Prince, T. E. Carey, G. T. Wolf, C. R. Bradford, D. B. Chepeha, A. Eisbruch. Intensity-Modulated Chemoradiotherapy Aiming to Reduce Dysphagia in Patients With Oropharyngeal Cancer: Clinical and Functional Results. Journal of Clinical Oncology, 2010; DOI: 10.1200/JCO.2009.24.6199

Cite This Page:

University of Michigan Health System. "Advanced radiation techniques reduce side effects in head and neck cancer treatment." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 17 May 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/05/100510121221.htm>.
University of Michigan Health System. (2010, May 17). Advanced radiation techniques reduce side effects in head and neck cancer treatment. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 24, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/05/100510121221.htm
University of Michigan Health System. "Advanced radiation techniques reduce side effects in head and neck cancer treatment." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/05/100510121221.htm (accessed April 24, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Big Pharma Braces for M&A Wave

Big Pharma Braces for M&A Wave

Reuters - Business Video Online (Apr. 22, 2014) Big pharma on the move as Novartis boss, Joe Jimenez, tells Reuters about plans to transform his company via an asset exchange with GSK, and Astra Zeneca shares surge on speculation that Pfizer is looking for a takeover. Joanna Partridge reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Study Says Most Crime Not Linked To Mental Illness

Study Says Most Crime Not Linked To Mental Illness

Newsy (Apr. 22, 2014) A new study finds most crimes committed by people with mental illness are not caused by symptoms of their illness or disorder. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Hagel Gets Preview of New High-Tech Projects

Hagel Gets Preview of New High-Tech Projects

AP (Apr. 22, 2014) Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is given hands-on demonstrations Tuesday of some of the newest research from DARPA _ the military's Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency program. (April 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
How Smaller Plates And Cutlery Could Make You Feel Fuller

How Smaller Plates And Cutlery Could Make You Feel Fuller

Newsy (Apr. 22, 2014) NBC's "Today" conducted an experiment to see if changing the size of plates and utensils affects the amount individuals eat. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins