Indian Journal of Palliative Care
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Year : 2006  |  Volume : 12  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 56--64

The role of reirradiation versus chemotherapy in recurrent head and neck cancer

Palliative Care Unit, Christian Medical College, Vellore - 632 004, India

Correspondence Address:
Jenifer Jeba
Palliative Care Unit, Christian Medical College, Vellore - 632 004
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/0973-1075.30246

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Head and neck cancer recurrences after definitive radiotherapy present a difficult therapeutic problem, as only a small proportion of patients have resectable disease. When surgery is not possible, reirradiation might be a feasible option for selected patients, particularly those with favourable prognostic factors such as second primaries, nasopharyngeal or laryngeal tumours or delayed recurrences. Current evidence indicates that in this group of patients reirradiation offers better control rates than palliative chemotherapy. The loco regional control rates of reirradiation without surgery is 20% at five years and 27% at two years. The overall survival rate with reirradiation ranges from 10% to 35% at two years and 0% to 14.6% at five years. The first randomized trial directly comparing chemotherapy with reirradiation is in progress. This article outlines the indications for and results of reirradiation and chemotherapy in post radiotherapy recurrences of head and neck cancer.


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Online since 1st October '05
Published by Wolters Kluwer - Medknow