Study results published in the August issue of the International Journal of Radiation Oncology Biology Physics indicated that proper delivery of intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) can improve health-related quality-of-life (HRQOL) for patients with oropharyngeal cancer compared with conventional radiation therapy (CRT).
In the ongoing longitudinal Outcome Assessment Project, oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma patients with these criteria were extracted from the database: treated with definitive radiation prior to October 12, 2002; and provided 12-month post-treatment HRQOL data. The HRQOL outcomes of 26 patients treated with IMRT were compared with those of 27 patients treated with CRT.
The IMRT patient group was older, presented with more advanced-stage disease, and had more patients who received concurrent chemotherapy. Yet, after a 12-month treatment, the IMRT group had higher head and neck cancer inventory scores, representing a better outcome, for each of the four head-and-neck cancer domains, including eating, speech, aesthetics and social disruption.
A greater percentage of patients in the CRT group had restricted diets compared with those in the IMRT group (48 percent vs. 16 percent). After 3 months of treatment, both groups significantly decreased from pretreatment eating scores.
Overall, the IMRT group had significant improvements during the first year, but the CRT group had smaller improvements.