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Clinical-dosimetric analysis of measures of dysphagia including gastrostomy-tube dependence among head and neck cancer patients treated definitively by intensity-modulated radiotherapy with concurrent chemotherapy.

  • Author(s): Li, Baoqing
  • Li, Dan
  • Lau, Derick H
  • Farwell, D Gregory
  • Luu, Quang
  • Rocke, David M
  • Newman, Kathleen
  • Courquin, Jean
  • Purdy, James A
  • Chen, Allen M
  • et al.


To investigate the association between dose to various anatomical structures and dysphagia among patients with head and neck cancer treated by definitive intensity-modulated radiotherapy (IMRT) and concurrent chemotherapy.

Methods and materials

Thirty-nine patients with squamous cancer of the head and neck were treated by definitive concurrent chemotherapy and IMRT to a median dose of 70 Gy (range, 68 to 72). In each patient, a gastrostomy tube (GT) was prophylacticly placed prior to starting treatment. Prolonged GT dependence was defined as exceeding the median GT duration of 192 days. Dysphagia was scored using standardized quality-of-life instruments. Dose-volume histogram (DVH) data incorporating the superior/middle pharyngeal constrictors (SMPC), inferior pharyngeal constrictor (IPC), cricoid pharyngeal inlet (CPI), and cervical esophagus (CE) were analyzed in relation to prolonged GT dependence, dysphagia, and weight loss.


At 3 months and 6 months after treatment, 87% and 44% of patients, respectively, were GT dependent. Spearman's rho analysis identified statistical correlations (p < 0.05) between prolonged GT dependence or high grade dysphagia with IPC V65, IPC V60, IPC Dmean, and CPI Dmax. Logistic regression model showed that IPC V65 > 30%, IPC V60 > 60%, IPC Dmean > 60 Gy, and CPI Dmax > 62 Gy predicted for greater than 50% probability of prolonged GT dependence.


Our analysis suggests that adhering to the following parameters may decrease the risk of prolonged GT dependence and dysphagia: IPC V65 < 15%, IPC V60 < 40%, IPC Dmean < 55 Gy, and CPI Dmax < 60 Gy.

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