High-dose reirradiation of head and neck cancer with curative intent

Kenneth R. Stevens, Amy Britsch, William T. Moss

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

148 Scopus citations


Purpose: This study evaluates the responses of new or recurrent head and neck cancers and the response of associated normal tissues to high dose reirradiation with curative intent. Methods and Materials: From 1964 to 1991, 15 patients with in-field new second head and neck cancers and 85 patients with recurrent head and neck cancers have high-dose reirradiation that overlapped with previously irradiated volumes. Reirradiation was given only to patients with no more than apparent minimal clinical radiation effects from the first radiation course. The reirradiation consisted of external beam only in 82 patients, external beam plus intracavitary or interstitial implant irradiation in 14 patients, and interstitial implant irradiation only in four patients. The combined overlapping dose from both the initial and subsequent irradiation (including brachytherapy) was 69-89 Gy in 14 patients, 90-99 Gy in 15 patients, 100-119 Gy in 27 patients, and 120 Gy or greater in 44 patients. Four patients had areas of overlap that received greater than 180 Gy. Results: The actuarial 5-year survival was 37% for patients with new second primary cancers and17% for patients with recurrent cancers. Loco-regional tumor control was achieved in 67% of the patients with new tumors and in 27% of the patients with recurrent tumors. Nine of the 100 patients developed severe adverse normal tissue effects from the reirradiation. Conclusion: High-dose reirradiation of head and neck cancers can be successful curative treatment in a significant proportion of patients. It is associated with substantial but acceptable risks in properly selected patients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)687-698
Number of pages12
JournalInternational Journal of Radiation Oncology, Biology, Physics
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 1 1994
Externally publishedYes


  • Head and neck cancer
  • Reirradiation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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