HealthDay News — Patients with head and neck cancers treated with intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) experience significant improvements in cause-specific survival compared with patients treated with conventional RT techniques, study findings indicate.

Beth M. Beadle, MD, PhD, from the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, and colleagues retrospectively analyzed cause-specific survival (CSS) for 3,172 patients with head and neck cancers treated with IMRT versus non-IMRT from 1999 to 2007. Information on CSS was extracted from the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results-Medicare database.

During a median 40-month follow-up period, patients treated with IMRT had a cause-specific survival of 84% compared with 66% for patients treated with other types of RT (P<0.001), the researchers reported in Cancer.

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All subgroups of patients treated with IMRT had better CSS than those treated with non-IMRT, when each anatomic subsite was analyzed separately. Patients treated with IMRT were associated with better CSS (hazard ratios, 0.72 for propensity score matching and 0.60 for instrumental variable analysis), in multivariable survival analyses.

“This suggests there may be benefits to IMRT in cancer outcomes, in addition to toxicity reduction, for this patient population,” the researchers wrote.


  1. Beadle K et al. Cancer. 2014; doi: 10.1002/cncr.28372.