Optimised IMRT can help reduce swallowing difficulties for head and neck cancer patients

An optimised intensity modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) pioneered at The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust and The Institute of Cancer Research, London, has been shown to spare adverse life-long side effects in head and neck cancer patients following treatment.

Initial results from the Dysphagia-Aspiration Related Structures (DARS) trial, funded by Cancer Research UK and the National Institute for Health Research, were presented at the American Society for Clinical Oncology virtual conference.

The randomised study found patients with head and neck cancer experienced fewer adverse side effects with the new technique optimised to reduce the risk of swallowing difficulties, known as dysphagia.

At the Royal Marsden, operational lead Mandy Humphreys, pre- treatment superintendent radiographer Craig Lacey and operational superintendent radiotherapist Sharon Cubitt are working on the trial.

“As therapeutic radiographers we have been at the forefront of delivering these advanced radiotherapy techniques and have seen the role this has played in improving long-term survivorship for head and neck patients. We triage all patients daily and provide supportive and ongoing care during their radiotherapy journey with us. We have experienced first-hand other successful organ-sparing trials such as PARSPORT and COSTAR, and have now been able to see the positive outcomes of the DARS trial,” they said.

Picture: The Royal Marsden is collaborating with The Institute of Cancer Research on the DARS trial.

See the full report on page 14 of the July 2020 issue of RAD Magazine.

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