Objective: The purpose of this study is to clarify the efficacy and toxicity of hyperfractionated radiation therapy (RT) for patients with nasopharyngeal cancer (NPC). Methods: Twenty-two patients with NPC treated at our hospital between April 1994 and December 2002 were the subjects of this study. They received hyperfractionated RT with a fraction size of 1.2 Gy, with a median tumor dose of 72 Gy (range 64.8-80.4). During this study period, our institutional strategy for locoregionally advanced NPC included neoadjuvant or concurrent chemotherapy combined with hyperfractionated RT, and 17 patients received some forms of cisplatin-containing chemotherapy. Results: With a median follow-up of 59 months, the estimated 5-year disease-free survival rate and overall survival rate were 72.7 and 85.2%, respectively. Acute hematological toxicities were acceptable and manageable. However, >50% of patients required nutritional support, and experienced severe pharyngitis, skin reaction and body weight loss. With regard to late sequelae, one patient developed grade 3 osteomyelitis, and one patient each developed grade 4 passage disturbance and laryngeal edema. No patients experienced any grades of optic nerve injury or temporal lobe necrosis. Conclusions: Hyperfractionated RT using 1.2 Gy per fraction, for a total dose of 72 Gy, produces a comparable treatment outcome. Although deleterious neurological sequelae were not observed in this study, caution should be exercised regarding other late sequelae, such as osteomyelitis and passage disturbance.
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