A new model for predicting acute mucosal toxicity in head-and-neck cancer patients undergoing radiotherapy with altered schedules

Lidia Strigari, Piernicola Pedicini, Marco D'Andrea, Paola Pinnarò, Laura Marucci, Carolina Giordano, Marcello Benassi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: One of the worst radiation-induced acute effects in treating head-and-neck (HN) cancer is grade 3 or higher acute (oral and pharyngeal) mucosal toxicity (AMT), caused by the killing/depletion of mucosa cells. Here we aim to testing a predictive model of the AMT in HN cancer patients receiving different radiotherapy schedules. Methods and Materials: Various radiotherapeutic schedules have been reviewed and classified as tolerable or intolerable based on AMT severity. A modified normal tissue complication probability (NTCP) model has been investigated to describe AMT data in radiotherapy regimens, both conventional and altered in dose and overall treatment time (OTT). We tested the hypothesis that such a model could also be applied to identify intolerable treatment and to predict AMT. This AMT NTCP model has been compared with other published predictive models to identify schedules that are either tolerable or intolerable. The area under the curve (AUC) was calculated for all models, assuming treatment tolerance as the gold standard. The correlation between AMT and the predicted toxicity rate was assessed by a Pearson correlation test. Results: The AMT NTCP model was able to distinguish between acceptable and intolerable schedules among the data available for the study (AUC = 0.84, 95% confidence interval = 0.75-0.92). In the equivalent dose at 2 Gy/fraction (EQD2) vs OTT space, the proposed model shows a trend similar to that of models proposed by other authors, but was superior in detecting some intolerable schedules. Moreover, it was able to predict the incidence of ≥G3 AMT. Conclusion: The proposed model is able to predict ≥G3 AMT after HN cancer radiotherapy, and could be useful for designing altered/hypofractionated schedules to reduce the incidence of AMT.

Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Radiation Oncology Biology Physics
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Aug 1 2012


  • Altered schedules
  • Head and neck cancer
  • Intolerable treatments
  • Mucositis
  • Radiotherapy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Radiation
  • Cancer Research


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