Treatment of oral cavity squamous cell carcinoma with adjuvant or definitive intensity-modulated radiation therapy

David J. Sher*, Vijaya Thotakura, Tracy A. Balboni, Charles M. Norris, Robert I. Haddad, Marshall R. Posner, Jochen Lorch, Laura A. Goguen, Donald J. Annino, Roy B. Tishler

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

54 Scopus citations


Purpose: The optimal management of oral cavity squamous cell carcinoma (OCSCC) typically involves surgical resection followed by adjuvant radiotherapy or chemoradiotherapy (CRT) in the setting of adverse pathologic features. Intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) is frequently used to treat oral cavity cancers, but published IMRT outcomes specific to this disease site are sparse. We report the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute experience with IMRT-based treatment for OCSCC. Methods and Materials: Retrospective study of all patients treated at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute for OCSCC with adjuvant or definitive IMRT between August 2004 and December 2009. The American Joint Committee on Cancer disease stage criteria distribution of this cohort included 5 patients (12%) with stage I; 10 patients (24%) with stage II (n = 10, 24%),; 14 patients (33%) with stage III (n = 14, 33%),; and 13 patients (31%) with stage IV. The primary endpoint was overall survival (OS); secondary endpoints were locoregional control (LRC) and acute and chronic toxicity. Results: Forty-two patients with OCSCC were included, 30 of whom were initially treated with surgical resection. Twenty-three (77%) of 30 surgical patients treated with adjuvant IMRT also received concurrent chemotherapy, and 9 of 12 (75%) patients treated definitively without surgery were treated with CRT or induction chemotherapy and CRT. With a median follow-up of 2.1 years (interquartile range, 1.1-3.1 years) for all patients, the 2-year actuarial rates of OS and LRC following adjuvant IMRT were 85% and 91%, respectively, and the comparable results for definitive IMRT were 63% and 64% for OS and LRC, respectively. Only 1 patient developed symptomatic osteoradionecrosis, and among patients without evidence of disease, 35% experienced grade 2 to 3 late dysphagia, with only 1 patient who was continuously gastrostomy-dependent. Conclusions: In this single-institution series, postoperative IMRT was associated with promising LRC, OS, and lower late toxicity rates, and chemoradiotherapy was a successful treatment for patients with high-risk disease. In contrast, outcomes of radiation-based treatment for patients with inoperable locally advanced disease were markedly less successful.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)e215-e222
JournalInternational Journal of Radiation Oncology Biology Physics
Issue number4
StatePublished - Nov 15 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Combined modality therapy
  • Head and neck cancer
  • IMRT
  • Oral cavity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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