Head-and-neck cancer is the 6th most common type of cancer worldwide. Combinations of radiation therapy and chemotherapy have increased the survival chances of patients with this type of cancer in the past few years. However, radiation has a strong negative influence on the quality of life of the patients. In addition to the tumour, healthy tissue such as salivary glands and the smooth muscles of the pharynx and oesophagus are also irradiated.
Research by the University Medical Centre Groningen (UMCG) shows the risks of side effects due to radiation can be predicted using various calculation models. These models are currently not yet sufficient. Therefore, the UMCG’s department of Radiation Oncology applied for a Dutch Cancer Society (KWF) project together with Maastricht University.
In this 6-year project, they will develop new models in which the radiation dose is very accurately and at a 3D-level distributed over the irradiated area. In addition, they will prepare a corresponding risk profile, the Comprehensive Individual Toxicity Risk profile, also known as the CITOR profile. This risk profile will enable optimised therapy and a personal treatment plan for every patient. In addition, the profile will decrease the chance of side effects of radiation during treatment of head and neck cancer without influencing the effectivity of the treatment. The CITOR profile could be used as a biomarker for the selection of patients for proton therapy. Hezelburcht supervised and assisted in the successful KWF application.
Hezelburcht’s supervision and assistance during the writing of the application was invaluable to us. They provided good coordination and structure to the application, which helped to ensure the successful completion of the application. - Hans Langendijk, Head of department Radiotherapy UMCG