Re-irradiation with curative intent in patients with squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck: a national survey of usual practice on behalf of the Italian Association of Radiation Oncology (AIRO)

Italian Association of Radiation Oncology (AIRO)

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


OBJECTIVE: To report the results of a national survey investigating the pattern of practice of curative re-irradiation (ReRT) for recurrent squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck.

METHODS: In March 2016, a 22-item, 4-section questionnaire was sent to all Italian Radiation Oncology centers. Sections were focused on assessing the expertise level of each center and collecting specific information on reRT prescription modalities in the adjuvant and definitive settings.

RESULTS: Overall, 77 centers completed the survey. The majority (50/77, 64.9%) of participating radiation oncologists were senior consultants (> 10 years of experience). Of the responding centers, 63 (81.8%) performed curative ReRT, while 14 (18.1%) did not, mainly (5/14, 35.7%) due to the avoidance of severe toxicity. The use of adjuvant ReRT was reported by less than half of the interviewed radiation oncologists (36/77, 46.7%). In case of unresectable local recurrence, definitive ReRT was claimed to be adopted in 55/77 (71.4%) for non-nasopharyngeal and 47/77 (61%) for nasopharyngeal cancer. The preferred treatment technique was Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy (IMRT) followed by Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy (SBRT). When IMRT was applied, the most common (19/55 responders, 34.5%) selection of treatment volume consisted of the Gross Tumor Volume (GTV) + 0.5 cm margin to account for microscopic disease.

CONCLUSION: Despite the absence of definitive evidence-based recommendations, a possible consideration for ReRT in case of unresectable recurrent head and neck cancer was reported by over 80% of radiation oncologists taking part in the national survey.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)561-567
Number of pages7
JournalEuropean Archives of Oto-Rhino-Laryngology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2018



  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell/radiotherapy
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms/radiotherapy
  • Humans
  • Italy
  • Nasopharyngeal Neoplasms/radiotherapy
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians'/statistics & numerical data
  • Radiation Oncology
  • Radiotherapy, Intensity-Modulated/statistics & numerical data
  • Re-Irradiation/statistics & numerical data
  • Squamous Cell Carcinoma of Head and Neck
  • Surveys and Questionnaires

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