Unilateral Neck Radiation Therapy in Head and Neck Cancer

Official Title

Randomized Trial of Unilateral vs. Bilateral Neck Irradiation in Head and Neck Cancer Patients Treated With Primary Surgery


Patients with head and neck cancer typically undergo a surgical procedure to remove the lymph nodes that could contain disease on both sides of the neck. After surgery, radiation therapy is given (with or without chemotherapy) to the area that underwent surgery and both sides of the neck, even if disease was only found on one side. Giving radiation therapy to both sides of the neck commonly results in high rates of side effects, which in turn affects patient quality of life. There is growing evidence from some other studies that support the safety of omitting radiation therapy after surgery in the side of the neck with no disease. With this study, the investigators are hoping to justify its routine use and, if successful, the standard of care could be to receive radiation on only one side of the neck instead of both sides. This could alleviate the extent of some side effects and improve patient quality of life. Participants will be randomized into one of the following groups to receive radiation therapy as follows: Arm 1 (Non-experimental intervention): standard intervention: Radiation Therapy to both sides of the neck. Treatment will begin a maximum of 8 weeks from the surgery date. Arm 2 (Experimental intervention): Radiation Therapy to one side of the neck. Treatment will begin a maximum of 8 weeks from the surgery date.

Trial Description

Primary Outcome:

  • Locoregional control
Secondary Outcome:
  • Overall survival and disease-specific survival
  • University of Washington Quality of Life Questionnaire - Radiation Therapy Oncology Group (UW-QOL - RTOG) modification
  • Xerostomia
  • Acute toxicity

View this trial on ClinicalTrials.gov

Interested in this trial?

Print this page and take it to your doctor to discuss your eligibilty and treatment options. Only your doctor can refer you to a clinical trial.


Canadian Cancer Society

These resources are provided in partnership with the Canadian Cancer Society