To assess toxicities, functional outcomes, and health-related quality of life associated with concurrent chemoradiation therapy (CRT) in patients with head and neck cancer.
Prospective and retrospective outcomes study.
Tertiary care institution.
Participants in the longitudinal Outcomes Assessment Project whose head and neck cancer was treated with CRT between February 1, 2000, and March 1, 2007 (n = 104).
Patients prospectively provided functional and health-related quality of life information, including data from the 1-year and most current follow-up visits. Medical records were reviewed to determine toxicity and survival rates.
Main Outcome Measures
Well-defined acute and late toxicities; functional outcomes (diet, dentition, tracheostomies); head and neck cancer–specific, general health, and depression outcomes; and survival rates.
Most patients had oropharyngeal or laryngeal tumors (87.5%) and advanced-stage disease (75.0%). Approximately one-half had hematologic toxicities and toxicity-related treatment delays. Approximately one-quarter had neurotoxicities and/or ototoxicites, moist desquamation, pneumonia, nausea and vomiting requiring hospitalization or intravenous fluids, dehydration or malnutrition requiring hospitalization, and mild or moderate fever. Although patients receiving the current intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) protocol using the Pinnacle3 planning system had more toxicity-related treatment delays, they had fewer toxicities and better functional and health-related quality of life outcomes compared with those receiving conventional lateral opposing-field radiation or the initial IMRT protocol using the Best nomos PEACOCK planning system.
Patients receiving CRT experience a substantial number of treatment-related adverse events, primarily affecting oropharyngeal and laryngeal function, with improvement noted for the current IMRT protocol. Improving dental prosthetic rehabilitation and including evaluations with speech and swallowing pathologists before and during treatment may enhance patient outcomes.