Excellent local control of paraganglioma in the head and neck with fractionated radiotherapy

S. Lightowlers, S. Benedict, S. J. Jefferies, R. Jena, F. Harris, K. E. Burton, N. G. Burnet

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


Aims: Radiotherapy is an important treatment option for paraganglioma in the head and neck region. It seems to be highly effective and avoids important surgical morbidity, which can impair quality of life. The aim of this study was to evaluate the outcomes of radiotherapy for paraganglioma of the head and neck region in order to inform our future practice. Materials and methods: The cohort of patients for the present study comprised 21 patients who received radiotherapy between 1998 and 2008. Follow-up ranged from 6 to 132 months, median 55 months. The mean age was 48.7 years, range 20-78 years. The female:male ratio was 2: 1. Two patients had confirmed familial tumour syndromes. The gross tumour volume in 20 cases ranged from 1.3 to 74cm3, mean 23.2cm3, median 14.7cm3. Five patients were treated with intensity-modulated radiotherapy. The median dose was 50Gy in 30 fractions. Results: The crude 5-year local control rate was 95% (20/21), although the 5-year actuarial local control rate was 87%. The one patient who relapsed, at 45 months after radiotherapy, had a comparatively small tumour of 10.8cm3. A relationship between tumour volume and local control seems unlikely. It was possible to obtain details of side-effects from electronic records for 11 patients. Grade 3 headache, which resolved, was the most serious acute side-effect. One patient had three teeth extracted due to exacerbation of dental caries, and one had deterioration of hearing thought to be due to a combination of tumour and radiotherapy. There were two serious complications in patients who had embolisation, which we no longer use. Conclusions: Our results show a high level of efficacy for fractionated external beam radiotherapy, with minimal toxicity, in keeping with other series. This should encourage the use of radiotherapy as primary treatment for paragangliomas of the head and neck region.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)382-389
Number of pages8
JournalClinical Oncology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Jun 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Local control
  • Paraganglioma
  • Radiotherapy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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