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Can Intensity-Modulated Radiotherapy (IMRT) Be Used To Reduce Toxicity And Improve Tumour Control In Patients With Head And Neck Cancer?

Nutting, Christopher (2012). Can Intensity-Modulated Radiotherapy (IMRT) Be Used To Reduce Toxicity And Improve Tumour Control In Patients With Head And Neck Cancer?. (Unpublished Doctoral thesis, City University London)


Radiotherapy is commonly used in the treatment of head and neck cancer. For early stage tumours, conventional radiotherapy techniques have a high cure rate and low levels of long-term complications. Patients with more advanced cancers have much lower cure rates and high levels of treatment-related complications. Intensity modulated radiotherapy (IMRT) is a new form of focussed radiation therapy. It has been used to reduce the radiation dose to normal tissue structures and increase the dose delivered to tumour bearing tissues. This potentially allows reduced side effects and increased tumour control compared to conventional radiotherapy. The rationale of this thesis was to test whether these twin goals could be achieved in head and neck cancer patients.

The first part of the thesis describes improvements in patient immobilisation, optimisation of techniques for neck irradiation, and evaluation of the technique in a busy radiotherapy department. It includes pre-clinical evaluation of IMRT for different tumour sites, the development of quality assurance programs and the conduct of a national randomised controlled trial of parotid-sparing IMRT. This trial concluded that IMRT significantly reduced patient-reported xerostomia, allowed recovery of saliva production and improved quality of life. The second part of the thesis describes pre-clinical evaluation of techniques to escalate radiation dose in patients with larynx and hypopharynx tumours. A phase I/II clinical trial showed that higher doses of radiation can be delivered at the expense of an increase in acute radiation toxicity but without a measurable increase in late radiation side effects. In the larynx and hypopharynx groups, a possible increase in local control was observed. This thesis describes the process of evaluation of a new radiotherapy technology and could be used as a template for testing other new technologies in the future.

Publication Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: R Medicine > RC Internal medicine > RC0254 Neoplasms. Tumors. Oncology (including Cancer)
Departments: Doctoral Theses
Doctoral Theses > School of Health Sciences Doctoral Theses
School of Health Sciences > Midwifery & Radiography
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