ecancermedicalscience

Review

Radiation-induced neuropathies in head and neck cancer: prevention and treatment modalities

3 Nov 2020
Patrick Azzam, Manal Mroueh, Marina Francis, Alaa Abou Daher, Youssef H Zeidan

Head and neck cancer (HNC) is the sixth most common human malignancy with a global incidence of 650,000 cases per year. Radiotherapy (RT) is commonly used as an effective therapy to treat tumours as a definitive or adjuvant treatment. Despite the substantial advances in RT contouring and dosage delivery, patients suffer from various radiation-induced complications, among which are toxicities to the nervous tissues in the head and neck area. Radiation-mediated neuropathies manifest as a result of increased oxidative stress-mediated apoptosis, neuroinflammation and altered cellular function in the nervous tissues. Eventually, molecular damage results in the formation of fibrotic tissues leading to susceptible loss of function of numerous neuronal substructures. Neuropathic sequelae following irradiation in the head and neck area include sensorineural hearing loss, alterations in taste and smell functions along with brachial plexopathy, and cranial nerves palsies. Numerous management options are available to relieve radiation-associated neurotoxicities notwithstanding treatment alternatives that remain restricted with limited benefits. In the scope of this review, we discuss the use of variable management and therapeutic modalities to palliate common radiation-induced neuropathies in head and neck cancers.

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