Proton therapy for head and neck cancer: A 12-year, single-institution experience

G. Brandon Gunn, Adam S. Garden, Rong Ye, Noveen Ausat, Kristina R. Dahlstrom, William H. Morrison, C. David Fuller, Jack Phan, Jay P. Reddy, Shalin J. Shah, Lauren L. Mayo, Stephen G. Chun, Gregory M. Chronowski, Amy C. Moreno, Jeffery N. Myers, Ehab Y. Hanna, Bita Esmaeli, Maura L. Gillison, Renata Ferrarotto, Katherine A. HutchesonMark S. Chambers, Lawrence E. Ginsberg, Adel K. El-Naggar, David I. Rosenthal, Xiaorong Ronald Zhu, Steven J. Frank

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Purpose: To characterize our experience and the disease control and toxicity of proton therapy (PT) for patients with head and neck cancer (HNC). Patients and Methods: Clinical outcomes for patients with HNC treated with PT at our institution were prospectively collected in 2 institutional review board-approved prospective studies. Descriptive statistics were used to summarize patient characteristics and outcomes. Overall survival, local-regional control, and disease-free survival were estimated by the Kaplan-Meier method. Treatment-related toxicities were recorded according to the Common Terminology Criteria for Adverse Events (version 4.03) scale. Results: The cohort consisted of 573 patients treated from February 2006 to June 2018. Median patient age was 61 years. Oropharynx (33.3%; n = 191), paranasal sinus (11%; n = 63), and periorbital tissues (11%; n = 62) were the most common primary sites. Patients with T3/T4 or recurrent disease comprised 46% (n = 262) of the cohort. The intent of PT was definitive in 53% (n = 303), postoperative in 37% (n = 211), and reirradiation in 10% (n = 59). Median dose was 66 Gy (radiobiological equivalent). Regarding systemic therapy, 43% had received concurrent (n = 244), 3% induction (n = 19), and 15% (n = 86) had both. At a median follow-up of 2.4 years, 88 patients (15%) had died and 127 (22%) developed disease recurrence. The overall survival, local-regional control, and disease-free survival at 2 and 5 years were, respectively, 87% and 75%, 87% and 78%, and 74% and 63%. Maximum toxicity (acute or late) was grade 3 in 293 patients (51%), grade 2 in 234 patients (41%), and grade 1 in 31 patients (5%). There were 381 acute grade 3 and 190 late grade 3 unique toxicities across 212 (37%) and 150 (26%) patients, respectively. There were 3 late-grade 4 events across 2 patients (0.3%), 2 (0.3%) acute-grade 5, and no (0%) late-grade 5 events. Conclusions: The overall results from this prospective study of our initial decade of experience with PT for HNC show favorable disease control and toxicity outcomes in a multidisease-site cohort and provide a reference benchmark for future comparison and study.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)108-118
Number of pages11
JournalInternational Journal of Particle Therapy
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jun 1 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Head and neck cancer
  • Proton therapy
  • Survival
  • Toxicity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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