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Head and Neck Non-Melanoma Skin Cancer Treated By Superficial X-Ray Therapy: An Analysis of 1021 Cases



To report a single-institutional experience with the use of Superficial X-Ray Therapy (SXRT) for head and neck non-melanoma skin cancer (N-MSC) and to compare outcomes by prescribed fractionation schedules.

Materials and methods

The medical records of 597 patients with 1021 lesions (720 BCC, 242 SCC, 59 SCC in situ) treated with kilovoltage radiation from 1979-2013 were retrospectively reviewed. The majority of patients were treated according to 1 of 3 institutional protocols based on the discretion of the radiation oncologist: 1) 22 x 2.5 Gy; 2) 20 x 2.5 Gy; 3) 30 x 2.0 Gy. "T" stage at first presentation was as follows: Tis (59); T1 (765); T2 (175); T3 (6), T4 (9); Tx, (7). All patients were clinical N0 and M0 at presentation. Chi-square test was used to evaluate any potential association between variables. The Kaplan-Meier method was used to analyze survival with the Log Rank test used for comparison. A Cox Regression analysis was performed for multivariate analysis.


The median follow up was 44 months. No significant difference was observed among the 3 prescribed fractionation schemes (p = 0.78) in terms of RTOG toxicity. There were no failures among SCC in situ, 37 local failures (23 BCC, 14 SCC), 5 regional failures (all SCC) and 2 distant failures (both SCC). For BCC, the 5-year LC was 96% and the 10-year LC was 94%. For SCC the corresponding rates of local control were 92% and 87%, respectively (p = 0.03). The use of >2.0 Gy daily was significantly associated with improved LC on multivariate analysis (HR: 0.17; CI 95%: 0.05-0.59).


SXRT for N-MSC of the head and neck is well tolerated, achieves excellent local control, and should continue to be recommended in the management of this disease. Fractionation schedules using >2.0 Gy daily appear to be associated with improved LC.

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