The impact of margin reduction on outcome and toxicity in head and neck cancer patients treated with image-guided volumetric modulated arc therapy (VMAT).



All patients were treated with volumetric modulated arc therapy (VMAT) with daily-image guidance using cone-beam CT (CBCT). Overall acute grade 3 toxicity was significantly lower in 3 mm-group, compared to 5 mm-group (53.8% vs. 65%, respectively, p = 0.032). The same was true for acute grade 3 mucositis (30.8% vs. 42.2%, p = 0.008) and for acute grade 3 dysphagia (feeding tube-dependence) (22.1% vs. 33.5%, p = 0.026). The incidence of ongoing feeding tube-dependence after 3 months of radiotherapy was 11.1% and 20.4%, respectively (p = 0.012). The 2-year incidence of late grade ≥2 xerostomia was 15.8% and 19.4% (p = 0.8). The 2-year loco-regional control rates of patients treated in 3 mm and 5 mm-groups were 79.9% and 79.2% (p = 1.0). The figures for disease-free survival were 71.5% and 72.7 (p = 0.6) and for overall survival were 75.2% and 75.1% (p = 0.9).


In recent decades, outcomes of patients with head and neck cancer (HNC) have improved as a result of implementing several strategies, such as chemoradiation. However, these improvements were achieved at the cost of increased toxicity. One way to reduce radiation-related toxicity is by reducing the margins.


Between 2013 and 2016, 206 consecutive patients were treated with CTV-PTV margin of 5 mm and subsequently 208 patients with 3 mm margin. This study evaluates the impact of reducing clinical target volume (CTV) to planning target volume (PTV) margin on outcome and toxicity.


Reducing the CTV-PTV margin from 5 to 3 mm combined with daily CBCT-guided VMAT reduced the severity, frequency, and duration of radiation-related toxicity without jeopardizing outcome.

More about this publication

Radiotherapy and oncology : journal of the European Society for Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology
  • Volume 130
  • Pages 25-31
  • Publication date 01-01-2019

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