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Year : 2014  |  Volume : 3  |  Issue : 4  |  Page : 209-212

Is aspiration as detected on pretreatment video fluorography, a harbinger of poor quality of life and early mortality in cancers of the upper aerodigestive tract treated with radiotherapy?

Department of Radiotherapy, Sanjay Gandhi Postgraduate Institute of Medical Sciences, Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, India

Correspondence Address:
Punita Lal
Department of Radiotherapy, Sanjay Gandhi Postgraduate Institute of Medical Sciences, Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/2278-330X.142968

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Background: Patients with cancers of the upper aerodigestive tract (head and neck cancer (HNC)) tend to aspirate, either due to disease or treatment. The association of aspiration (documented on video fluorography (VFG)) with quality of life (QOL) and unexpected mortality was studied prospectively in patients treated with simultaneous integrated boost technique of intensity-modulated radiotherapy (SIB-IMRT). Materials and Methods: Moderately advanced (stage III/IV) HNC were treated by SIB-IMRT delivering 66 Gy/30 fr, 60 Gy/30 fr, and 54 Gy/30 fr to high, intermediate, and low risk volumes, respectively. They underwent serial VFG and QOL assessments (Quality of Life Questionnaire-Core 30 ( QLQ-C30) and head and neck-35 (HN35) European Organisation for Research and Treatment of Cancer (EORTC) tools) at 0, 3, and 6 months. Pharyngeal musculature (PM) was additionally delineated on planning computed tomography (CT) scans as potential organs at risk (OARs). Results: Between November 2009 and May 2011, 20 HNC were treated as per protocol. All patients were fit (Karnofsky performance status (KPS) ≥ 80). Based on VFG findings, seven patients (4/9 oropharynx and 3/11 laryngopharynx) were grouped as aspirators (A) and remaining 13 as non-aspirators (NA). The QOL study showed that pretreatment coughing and swallowing difficulties were greater in group A versus NA and remained persistently higher. In group A, deaths attributable to aspiration were seen in 3/7 patients, while none occurred in the NA group (Fisher's exact P = 0.03). The mean PM dose was 60 Gy in both the groups and mean V60 was similar at 69 and 67% in A and NA groups, respectively. Conclusions: VFG helps identify patients who aspirate and are at risk of premature death due to its complications, alerting caregivers to direct attention appropriately.

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