Postoperative clinical radiosensitivity in patients with Fanconi anemia and head and neck squamous cell carcinoma

Andrew C. Birkeland, Arleen D. Auerbach, Erica Sanborn, Bhupesh Parashar, William I. Kuhel, Settara C. Chandrasekharappa, Agata Smogorzewska, David I. Kutler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Scopus citations


Objective: To describe the complications and adverse effects of postoperative radiotherapy in patients with Fanconi anemia (FA). Design: Cohort study. Setting: Patients with FA treated at community and tertiary care hospitals throughout the United States. Patients: The study included patients with FA whowere enrolled in the International FA Registry (IFAR) and who developed head and neck squamous cell carcinoma and received postoperative radiotherapy. Main Outcome Measures: Demographics of patients with FA and adverse effects and dosages of radiotherapy. Results: Twelve patients with FA (7 men and 5 women) were identified. They developed cancers at a mean age of 35.5 years (age range, 20-48 years). The sites of primary cancer were the oral cavity (n=8), larynx (n=2), pharynx (n=1), and unknown (n=1). The median radiation dose was 5590 cGy (range, 2500-7020 cGy). The most common adverse effects were mucositis (n=9), dysphagia (n=8), and pancytopenia (n=6). Other complications included esophageal stenosis, laryngeal edema, and wound breakdown. Radiotherapy could not be completed in 5 cases. Overall, 8 patients died, 4 during the course of radiotherapy. The postoperative disease-free survival time ranged from 0 to 55 months. Conclusions: Patients with FA have a high rate of complications from radiotherapy. Common adverse effects, particularly mucositis, are especially prevalent and difficult to manage in this population. Pancytopenia is common and may lead to further complications, particularly bleeding and infection. Overall survival is poor. Further study of the response to radiotherapy in patients with FA should be attempted to establish appropriate dosages to balance treating disease while limiting adverse effects.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)930-934
Number of pages5
JournalArchives of Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 1 2011
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Otorhinolaryngology


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