Palliative radiotherapy in head and neck cancers: Evidence based review
- K Talapatra, T Gupta, JP Agarwal, S Ghosh-Laskar, S Srivastava, K. Dinshaw
- Indian J Palliat Care 2006;12:44-50
CONTEXT In India, a considerable proportion of patients with head and neck cancer present with locoregionally advanced disease. Symptom palliation becomes a major objective in these cases when they could not be considered for a curative approach. AIMS The aim of this study is to assess the role of palliative radiotherapy for symptom control in patients with locally advanced head and neck cancer. SETTINGS AND DESIGN This was a retrospective study. SUBJECTS AND METHODS Between July 2015 and June 2016, 98 patients with stage IV head and neck cancer were treated with palliative radiotherapy 25 Gray (Gy)/4 fractions (fr)/1 fraction (6.25 Gy)/week. Presenting symptoms were noted. The primary end point was relief of symptoms in the 4th week after radiotherapy. Percentage symptom relief was quantified by the patient using a rupee scale. Treatment response was noted using the WHO criteria. Acute toxicity was graded as per the Radiation Therapy Oncology Group (RTOG) criteria. RESULTS The most common presenting symptom was pain. At 4 weeks after radiotherapy completion, all patients had >50% pain relief. Dysphagia was improved in 82% of patients. Respiratory distress was improved in all the symptomatic patients. Tumor complete response (CR) was seen in 2 patients, partial response in 89, stable disease in 3, and progressive disease in 4. RTOG Grade 2 and 3 acute skin and mucosal toxicities were seen in 29% and 27% cases, respectively. No patient had Grade 4 adverse effect. CONCLUSIONS Hypofractionated radiation could provide effective symptom palliation in advanced head and neck cancers. The weekly schedule was well tolerated and found convenient by the patients.