This study aims to evaluate the current literature regarding the effects of conventional radiation therapy (CRT) versus intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) on global quality of life (QoL) among patients treated for head and neck cancer. A PubMed literature review was performed. Only articles comparing global QoL scores in head and neck cancer patients treated with CRT versus IMRT were included. Studies were scrutinized for methodology, level of evidence and limitations. Outcomes were evaluated for external validity, level of evidence and applicability. Between 2005 and 2012, 14 eligible studies (six prospective, two randomized controlled trials) were identified. Although all presented data comment on the advantages of IMRT, differences in study design made comparisons difficult. The vast majority of these were also limited by relatively small sample sizes and heterogeneity with respect to patient and treatment-related characteristics. Although more robust evidence is needed in the future, the published data reasonably support the benefits of IMRT as compared with CRT (either 2D or 3D) in improving QoL, beginning at approximately 3-6 months post-treatment, and possibly potentiating with time up to 2 and 3 years.
- head and neck cancer
- intensity-modulated radiation therapy
- quality of life
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pharmacology (medical)