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Sparing the region of the salivary gland containing stem cells preserves saliva production after radiotherapy for head and neck cancer

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      Parotid-sparing intensity modulated versus conventional radiotherapy in head and neck cancer (PARSPORT): a phase 3 multicentre randomised controlled trial

      Summary Background Xerostomia is the most common late side-effect of radiotherapy to the head and neck. Compared with conventional radiotherapy, intensity-modulated radiotherapy (IMRT) can reduce irradiation of the parotid glands. We assessed the hypothesis that parotid-sparing IMRT reduces the incidence of severe xerostomia. Methods We undertook a randomised controlled trial between Jan 21, 2003, and Dec 7, 2007, that compared conventional radiotherapy (control) with parotid-sparing IMRT. We randomly assigned patients with histologically confirmed pharyngeal squamous-cell carcinoma (T1–4, N0–3, M0) at six UK radiotherapy centres between the two radiotherapy techniques (1:1 ratio). A dose of 60 or 65 Gy was prescribed in 30 daily fractions given Monday to Friday. Treatment was not masked. Randomisation was by computer-generated permuted blocks and was stratified by centre and tumour site. Our primary endpoint was the proportion of patients with grade 2 or worse xerostomia at 12 months, as assessed by the Late Effects of Normal Tissue (LENT SOMA) scale. Analyses were done on an intention-to-treat basis, with all patients who had assessments included. Long-term follow-up of patients is ongoing. This study is registered with the International Standard Randomised Controlled Trial register, number ISRCTN48243537. Findings 47 patients were assigned to each treatment arm. Median follow-up was 44·0 months (IQR 30·0–59·7). Six patients from each group died before 12 months and seven patients from the conventional radiotherapy and two from the IMRT group were not assessed at 12 months. At 12 months xerostomia side-effects were reported in 73 of 82 alive patients; grade 2 or worse xerostomia at 12 months was significantly lower in the IMRT group than in the conventional radiotherapy group (25 [74%; 95% CI 56–87] of 34 patients given conventional radiotherapy vs 15 [38%; 23–55] of 39 given IMRT, p=0·0027). The only recorded acute adverse event of grade 2 or worse that differed significantly between the treatment groups was fatigue, which was more prevalent in the IMRT group (18 [41%; 99% CI 23–61] of 44 patients given conventional radiotherapy vs 35 [74%; 55–89] of 47 given IMRT, p=0·0015). At 24 months, grade 2 or worse xerostomia was significantly less common with IMRT than with conventional radiotherapy (20 [83%; 95% CI 63–95] of 24 patients given conventional radiotherapy vs nine [29%; 14–48] of 31 given IMRT; p<0·0001). At 12 and 24 months, significant benefits were seen in recovery of saliva secretion with IMRT compared with conventional radiotherapy, as were clinically significant improvements in dry-mouth-specific and global quality of life scores. At 24 months, no significant differences were seen between randomised groups in non-xerostomia late toxicities, locoregional control, or overall survival. Interpretation Sparing the parotid glands with IMRT significantly reduces the incidence of xerostomia and leads to recovery of saliva secretion and improvements in associated quality of life, and thus strongly supports a role for IMRT in squamous-cell carcinoma of the head and neck. Funding Cancer Research UK (CRUK/03/005).
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        Preventing or reducing late side effects of radiation therapy: radiobiology meets molecular pathology.

        Radiation therapy has curative or palliative potential in roughly half of all incident solid tumours, and offers organ and function preservation in most cases. Unfortunately, early and late toxicity limits the deliverable intensity of radiotherapy, and might affect the long-term health-related quality of life of the patient. Recent progress in molecular pathology and normal-tissue radiobiology has improved the mechanistic understanding of late normal-tissue effects and shifted the focus from initial-damage induction to damage recognition and tissue remodelling. This stimulates research into new pharmacological strategies for preventing or reducing the side effects of radiation therapy.
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          Prospective randomized study of intensity-modulated radiotherapy on salivary gland function in early-stage nasopharyngeal carcinoma patients.

          This randomized trial compared the rates of delayed xerostomia between two-dimensional radiation therapy (2DRT) and intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) in the treatment of early-stage nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC). Between November 2001 and December 2003, 60 patients with T1-2bN0-1M0 NPC were randomly assigned to receive either IMRT or 2DRT. Primary end point was incidence of observer-rated severe xerostomia at 1 year after treatment based on Radiotherapy Oncology Group /European Organisation for the Research and Treatment of Cancer late radiation morbidity scoring criteria. Parallel assessment with patient-reported outcome, stimulated parotid flow rate (SPFR), and stimulated whole saliva flow rate (SWSFR) were also made. At 1 year after treatment, patients in IMRT arm had lower incidence of observer-rated severe xerostomia than patients in the 2DRT arm (39.3% v 82.1%; P = .001), parallel with a higher fractional SPFR (0.90 v 0.05; P < .0001), and higher fractional SWSFR (0.41 v 0.20; P = .001). As for patient's subjective feeling, although a trend of improvement in patient-reported outcome was observed after IMRT, recovery was incomplete and there was no significant difference in patient-reported outcome between the two arms. IMRT is superior to 2DRT in preserving parotid function and results in less severe delayed xerostomia in the treatment of early-stage NPC. Incomplete improvement in patient's subjective xerostomia with parotid-sparing IMRT reflects the need to enhance protection of other salivary glands.
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            Author and article information

            Journal
            Science Translational Medicine
            Science Translational Medicine
            American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)
            1946-6234
            1946-6242
            September 16 2015
            September 16 2015
            : 7
            : 305
            : 305ra147
            10.1126/scitranslmed.aac4441
            © 2015

            http://www.sciencemag.org/about/science-licenses-journal-article-reuse

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