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Research finds newer radiation therapy technology improves patients' quality of life
Date:1/26/2012

(SACRAMENTO, Calif.) -- Patients with head and neck cancers who have been treated with newer, more sophisticated radiation therapy technology enjoy a better quality of life than those treated with older radiation therapy equipment, a study by UC Davis researchers has found.

The findings, presented today at the Multidisciplinary Head and Neck Cancer Symposium in Phoenix, is the first of its kind to measure long-term quality of life among cancer patients who have undergone radiation therapy for advanced cancers of the throat, tongue, vocal cords, and other structures in the head and neck.

Allen Chen, assistant professor and director of the residency and fellowship training program in the UC Davis Department of Radiation Oncology, reported that the use of intensity-modulated radiation therapy, or IMRT, was associated with fewer long-term side effects, which led to a better quality of life. Standard radiation therapy to the head and neck has been known to affect a patient's ability to produce saliva, taste, and even chew food. These side effects historically have resulted in permanent disabilities.

"With the newer machines using IMRT, physicians are skillfully able to deliver higher doses of radiation to the tumor and lower doses to surrounding normal tissues than ever before," Chen said. "I wanted to see if this theoretical advantage resulted in any tangible improvements in quality of life for patients."

For the study, Chen used the University of Washington Quality of Life instrument, a standardized, previously validated questionnaire that patients complete after radiation therapy. The survey was administered prospectively to 155 patients at UC Davis Cancer Center diagnosed with head and neck cancers, 54 percent of whom were initially treated with IMRT and 46 percent of whom were treated with other radiation therapy technologies. All of the patients receiving IMRT also underwent image-guided radiotherapy (IGRT), which has
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Contact: Dorsey Griffith
dorsey.griffith@ucdmc.ucdavis.edu
916-734-9118
University of California - Davis Health System
Source:Eurekalert

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