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Logo of bmccancBioMed Centralsearchsubmit a manuscriptregisterthis articleBMC Cancer
BMC Cancer. 2012; 12: 253.
Published online 2012 June 18. doi:  10.1186/1471-2407-12-253
PMCID: PMC3489531

Effectiveness of prophylactic retropharyngeal lymph node irradiation in patients with locally advanced head and neck cancer



The aim of the study is to assess the effectiveness of intensity-modulated radiotherapy (IMRT) or image-guided radiotherapy (IGRT) for the prevention of retropharyngeal nodal recurrences in locally advanced head and neck cancer.


A retrospective review of 76 patients with head and neck cancer undergoing concurrent chemoradiation or postoperative radiotherapy with IMRT or IGRT who were at risk for retropharyngeal nodal recurrences because of anatomic site (hypopharynx, nasopharynx, oropharynx) and/or the presence of nodal metastases was undertaken.

The prevalence of retropharyngeal nodal recurrences was assessed on follow-up positron emission tomography (PET)-CT scans.


At a median follow-up of 22 months (4–53 months), no patient developed retropharyngeal nodal recurrences.


Prophylactic irradiation of retropharyngeal lymph nodes with IMRT or IGRT provides effective regional control for individuals at risk for recurrence in these nodes.

Keywords: Head and neck cancer, IMRT, IGRT, Retropharyngeal lymph nodes

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