Study: 3-D radiation treatment planning improves patient quality of life

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Researchers at Philadelphia-based Fox Chase Cancer Center have researched treatment factors that help patients avoid the necessity of feeding-tubes. The researchers looked at patients with head and neck cancer and the techniques and surgeries that leave many patients reliant on the tubes. "Three-dimensional treatment planning appears to have a significant impact on improving quality of life by reducing feeding tube dependency," said Linna Li, MD, medical intern. Li presented the results at the 48th Annual Meeting of the American Society for Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology in Philadelphia this week. The retrospective study analyzed treatment records since 1997 for patients receiving definitive radiation therapy--with or without surgery and chemotherapy--for squamous-cell carcinomas of the throat, including oropharynx, hypoharynx and larynx. The majority of patients in the study were men with oropharyngeal cancer. "In analyzing the factors associated with feeding tube dependency at 18 months, only the higher T stage and 2D treatment planning were independent predictors," Li said. "Of the 54 patients who had 2D treatment planning, 20 were feeding-tube dependent at 18 months compared to just five of the 36 who had 3D treatment planning. Of the three patients who had intensity-modulated radiation therapy instead of conventional radiation, none were feeding-tube dependent. Li concluded that "Three-dimensional treatment planning can help patients avoid feeding tube dependency."