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Very accelerated radiotherapy in head and neck cancer

A French group from Paris and Nancy have recently reported that accelerating radiotherapy (i.e. getting through a course in less time) and specifically giving 6000 cGy to 6400cGy in three weeks gave better survival results than the conventional radiotherapy prescription of 7000 cGy in seven weeks.
This study adds to several others, which indicate that the overall time over which a ‘curative’ course of radiotherapy is given determines, to some extent, the likelihood of success. It is perceived that recovery from radiation damage by the cancer cells during the longer courses of radiation is responsible for some failures; this would be the interpretation of the results of this trial.
However, at present, other groups are looking at concurrent chemotherapy and it is doubtful that both concurrent chemotherapy and accelerated radiotherapy could be given together, for the extra toxicity reasons (many of the accelerated radiotherapy cases needed a feeding tube because they were unable to swallow during the latter phases of the radiotherapy), and so there will be different research teams exploring these two interesting new lines of clinical research.