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Palliative radiotherapy for locally advanced non-metastatic head and neck cancer: A systematic review

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Charles Kelly, Bojidar Goranov, Professor Vinidh Paleri


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© 2017. Objectives: The objective of this systematic review was to identify and appraise the existing evidence of role of palliative radiotherapy for locally advanced non-metastatic head and neck cancer. Methods: A systematic search of the literature was conducted using Medline, Embase and Cochrane databases and relevant references were included. Results: Literature search revealed a wide variation in dose fractionation regimens. Reported outcomes showed high efficacy and low rate of significant side effects, except in studies utilising higher doses of radiotherapy where higher grade toxicities were seen. Reported median overall survival was in the range of 3.3-17 months, but most studies reported median survival of around 6 months. Conclusions: The choice of palliative radiotherapy varies significantly. This is in contrast to regimens of curative radiotherapy for locally advanced head and neck cancer, which are well standardised. Given the reported relatively short overall survival of this patient group, an ideal treatment should be of the shortest possible duration whilst ensuring effective palliation and minimal side effects. Future well designed trials are needed to evaluate quality of life and duration of side effects in addition to survival and severity of toxicities in this group of patients.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Shahid Iqbal M, Kelly C, Kovarik J, Goranov B, Shaikh G, Morgan D, Dobrowsky W, Paleri V

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Radiotherapy and Oncology

Year: 2018

Volume: 126

Issue: 3

Pages: 558-567

Print publication date: 01/03/2018

Online publication date: 19/01/2018

Acceptance date: 17/12/2017

ISSN (print): 0167-8140

ISSN (electronic): 1879-0887

Publisher: Elsevier Ireland Ltd


DOI: 10.1016/j.radonc.2017.12.011


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