Intensity-modulated radiotherapy for oral cavity squamous cell carcinoma: Patterns of failure and predictors of local control

Megan E Daly, Quynh Thu Le, Margaret M. Kozak, Peter G. Maxim, James D. Murphy, Annie Hsu, Billy W. Loo, Michael J. Kaplan, Nancy J. Fischbein, Daniel T. Chang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

52 Scopus citations


Purpose: Few studies have evaluated the use of intensity-modulated radiotherapy (IMRT) for squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) of the oral cavity (OC). We report clinical outcomes and failure patterns for these patients. Methods and Materials: Between October 2002 and June 2009, 37 patients with newly diagnosed SCC of the OC underwent postoperative (30) or definitive (7) IMRT. Twenty-five patients (66%) received systemic therapy. The median follow-up was 38 months (range, 10-87 months). The median interval from surgery to RT was 5.9 weeks (range, 2.1-10.7 weeks). Results: Thirteen patients experienced local-regional failure at a median of 8.1 months (range, 2.4-31.9 months), and 2 additional patients experienced local recurrence between surgery and RT. Seven local failures occurred in-field (one with simultaneous nodal and distant disease) and two at the margin. Four regional failures occurred, two in-field and two out-of-field, one with synchronous metastases. Six patients experienced distant failure. The 3-year actuarial estimates of local control, local-regional control, freedom from distant metastasis, and overall survival were 67%, 53%, 81%, and 60% among postoperative patients, respectively, and 60%, 60%, 71%, and 57% among definitive patients. Four patients developed Grade ≥2 chronic toxicity. Increased surgery to RT interval predicted for decreased LRC (p = 0.04). Conclusions: Local-regional control for SCC of the OC treated with IMRT with or without surgery remains unsatisfactory. Definitive and postoperative IMRT have favorable toxicity profiles. A surgery-to-RT interval of <6 weeks improves local-regional control. The predominant failure pattern was local, suggesting that both improvements in target delineation and radiosensitization and/or dose escalation are needed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1412-1422
Number of pages11
JournalInternational Journal of Radiation Oncology Biology Physics
Issue number5
StatePublished - Aug 1 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Intensity-modulated radiotherapy
  • Oral cavity
  • Squamous cell carcinoma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Radiation
  • Cancer Research


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