National Cancer Institute Home at the National Institutes of Health | www.cancer.gov

Publication Abstract

Authors: Fesinmeyer MD, Mehta V, Blough D, Tock L, Ramsey SD

Title: Effect of radiotherapy interruptions on survival in medicare enrollees with local and regional head-and-neck cancer.

Journal: Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys 78(3):675-81

Date: 2010 Nov 01

Abstract: PURPOSE: To investigate whether interruptions in radiotherapy are associated with decreased survival in a population-based sample of head-and-neck cancer patients. METHODS AND MATERIALS: Using the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results-Medicare linked database we identified Medicare beneficiaries aged 66 years and older diagnosed with local-regional head-and-neck cancer during the period 1997-2003. We examined claims records of 3864 patients completing radiotherapy for the presence of one or more 5-30-day interruption(s) in therapy. We then performed Cox regression analyses to estimate the association between therapy interruptions and survival. RESULTS: Patients with laryngeal tumors who experienced an interruption in radiotherapy had a 68% (95% confidence interval, 41-200%) increased risk of death, compared with patients with no interruptions. Patients with nasal cavity, nasopharynx, oral, salivary gland, and sinus tumors had similar associations between interruptions and increased risk of death, but these did not reach statistical significance because of small sample sizes. CONCLUSIONS: Treatment interruptions seem to influence survival time among patients with laryngeal tumors completing a full course of radiotherapy. At all head-and-neck sites, the association between interruptions and survival is sensitive to confounding by stage and other treatments. Further research is needed to develop methods to identify patients most susceptible to interruption-induced mortality.

Last Modified: 03 Sep 2013