Intensity-Modulated Radiotherapy in the Treatment of Oropharyngeal Cancer: Clinical Outcomes and Patterns of Failure

Megan E Daly, Quynh Thu Le, Peter G. Maxim, Billy W. Loo, Michael J. Kaplan, Nancy J. Fischbein, Harlan Pinto, Daniel T. Chang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

87 Scopus citations


Purpose: To report outcomes, failures, and toxicities in patients treated with intensity-modulated radiotherapy (IMRT) for squamous cell carcinoma of the oropharynx. Methods And Materials: Between Aug 2001 and Oct 2007, 107 patients were treated with IMRT with curative intent at Stanford University. Twenty-two patients were treated postoperatively, and 85 were treated definitively. Concurrent platinum-based chemotherapy was administered to 86 patients (80%) and cetuximab to 8 patients (7%). The prescribed dose was 66 Gy at 2.2 Gy/fraction for definitively treated cases and 60 Gy at 2 Gy/fraction for postoperative cases. Median follow-up was 29 months among surviving patients (range, 4-105 months). Results: Eight patients had persistent disease or local-regional failure at a median of 6.5 months (range, 0-9.9 months). Six local failures occurred entirely within the high-risk clinical target volume (CTV) (one with simultaneous distant metastasis). One patient relapsed within the high- and intermediate-risk CTV. One patient had a recurrence at the junction between the IMRT and low-neck fields. Seven patients developed distant metastasis as the first site of failure. The 3-year local-regional control (LRC), freedom from distant metastasis, overall survival, and disease-free survival rates were 92%, 92%, 83%, and 81%, respectively. T stage (T4 vs. T1-T3) was predictive of poorer LRC (p = 0.001), overall survival (p = 0.001), and disease-free survival (p < 0.001) rates. Acute toxicity consisted of 58% grade 3 mucosal and 5% grade 3 skin reactions. Six patients (6%) developed grade ≥3 late complications. Conclusions: IMRT provides excellent LRC for oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma. Distant metastases are a major failure pattern. No marginal failures were observed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1339-1346
Number of pages8
JournalInternational Journal of Radiation Oncology Biology Physics
Issue number5
StatePublished - Apr 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • IMRT
  • Intensity-modulated
  • Oropharynx
  • radiotherapy
  • Squamous cell carcinoma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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