Treatment of oral cavity squamous cell carcinoma with adjuvant or definitive intensity-modulated radiation therapy

David J. Sher, Vijaya Thotakura, Tracy A. Balboni, Charles M. Norris, Robert I. Haddad, Marshall R. Posner, Jochen Lorch, Laura A. Goguen, Donald J. Annino, Roy B. Tishler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

51 Scopus citations


Purpose: The optimal management of oral cavity squamous cell carcinoma (OCSCC) typically involves surgical resection followed by adjuvant radiotherapy or chemoradiotherapy (CRT) in the setting of adverse pathologic features. Intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) is frequently used to treat oral cavity cancers, but published IMRT outcomes specific to this disease site are sparse. We report the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute experience with IMRT-based treatment for OCSCC. Methods and Materials: Retrospective study of all patients treated at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute for OCSCC with adjuvant or definitive IMRT between August 2004 and December 2009. The American Joint Committee on Cancer disease stage criteria distribution of this cohort included 5 patients (12%) with stage I; 10 patients (24%) with stage II (n = 10, 24%),; 14 patients (33%) with stage III (n = 14, 33%),; and 13 patients (31%) with stage IV. The primary endpoint was overall survival (OS); secondary endpoints were locoregional control (LRC) and acute and chronic toxicity. Results: Forty-two patients with OCSCC were included, 30 of whom were initially treated with surgical resection. Twenty-three (77%) of 30 surgical patients treated with adjuvant IMRT also received concurrent chemotherapy, and 9 of 12 (75%) patients treated definitively without surgery were treated with CRT or induction chemotherapy and CRT. With a median follow-up of 2.1 years (interquartile range, 1.1-3.1 years) for all patients, the 2-year actuarial rates of OS and LRC following adjuvant IMRT were 85% and 91%, respectively, and the comparable results for definitive IMRT were 63% and 64% for OS and LRC, respectively. Only 1 patient developed symptomatic osteoradionecrosis, and among patients without evidence of disease, 35% experienced grade 2 to 3 late dysphagia, with only 1 patient who was continuously gastrostomy-dependent. Conclusions: In this single-institution series, postoperative IMRT was associated with promising LRC, OS, and lower late toxicity rates, and chemoradiotherapy was a successful treatment for patients with high-risk disease. In contrast, outcomes of radiation-based treatment for patients with inoperable locally advanced disease were markedly less successful.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)e215-e222
JournalInternational Journal of Radiation Oncology Biology Physics
Issue number4
StatePublished - Nov 15 2011


  • Combined modality therapy
  • Head and neck cancer
  • IMRT
  • Oral cavity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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