Currently, the most common method of delivering intensity-modulated radiotherapy (IMRT) is through step-and-shoot, segmental multi-leaf collimator (SMLC)-based techniques. Although rotational delivery methods such as helical tomotherapy (HT) have been proposed as offering advantages in the treatment of head and neck cancer, a lack of clinical data exists on its potential utility. This study compared dosimetric, clinical, and quality-of-life endpoints among 149 patients treated by HT and SMLC-IMRT for head and neck cancer. Dosimetric analysis revealed that the use of HT resulted in significant improvements with respect to mean dose (23.5 versus 27.9 Gy, p = 0.03) and V30 (30.1 versus 43.9 Gy, p = 0.01) to the contralateral (spared) parotid gland. However, the incidence of grade 3+ xerostomia in the late setting was 10% and 8% among patients treated by HT and SMLC-IMRT, respectively (p = 0.46). There were no significant differences in any of the quality of life endpoints among patients treated by HT and SMLC-IMRT (p > 0.05, for all). Acknowledging the biases inherent in this retrospective analysis, we found that the dosimetric advantages observed with HT compared to SMLC-IMRT failed to translate into significant improvements in clinical outcome. Prospective studies are needed to further evaluate how HT may affect the therapeutic ratio.
- Head and neck
- Helical tomotherapy
- Intensity-modulated radiotherapy
- Parotid sparing
- Radiation planning