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Chemoradiation Effects Can Be Toxic for Cancer Patients

-- A. Agrawal, PhD

Monday, December 28, 2009

MONDAY, Dec. 28 (HealthDay News) -- Patients with head and neck cancer who receive chemoradiation therapy have substantial treatment-related adverse effects, although a current protocol is associated with fewer toxicities, according to a study in the December issue of the Archives of Otolaryngology -- Head & Neck Surgery.

Daniel J. Givens and colleagues from the University of Iowa College of Medicine in Iowa City examined long-term outcomes in 104 patients with head and neck cancer (largely oropharyngeal or laryngeal tumors and advanced-stage disease) treated with chemoradiation therapy.

The researchers found that about half of patients had hematologic toxicities and toxicity-related treatment delays, and about a quarter had toxicities such as neurotoxicities and/or ototoxicities, moist desquamation, pneumonia, nausea and vomiting requiring hospitalization or intravenous fluids, dehydration or malnutrition requiring hospitalization, and mild or moderate fever. Although there were more toxicity-related treatment delays in patients receiving the current intensity-modulated radiation therapy protocol, these patients had fewer toxicities and better quality of life than patients receiving an older protocol or conventional lateral opposing-field radiation.

"Patients receiving chemoradiation therapy experience a substantial number of treatment-related adverse events, primarily affecting oropharyngeal and laryngeal function, with improvement noted for the current intensity-modulated radiation therapy protocol," Givens and colleagues conclude. "Improving dental prosthetic rehabilitation and including evaluations with speech and swallowing pathologists before and during treatment may enhance patient outcomes."

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Specialties Cardiology
Diabetes & Endocrinology
Internal Medicine
Family Practice

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