IMRT versus 2D/3D conformal RT in oropharyngeal cancer: A review of the literature and meta-analysis

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Based on literature, intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) provides less related toxicity compared with conventional 2D/3D-RT with no impact on oncological outcomes for oropharyngeal cancer. The aim of this systematic review and meta-analysis is to assess whether IMRT might provide similar clinical outcomes with reduced related toxicity in comparison with conventional 2D/3D RT in patients treated for clinically advanced oropharyngeal cancer (OPC). Inclusion criteria for paper selection included: squamous OPC patients, treatment performed by concomitant CRT or RT alone, four treatment performed for curative intent, and presence of clinical outcome of interest, namely, overall survival (OS) and disease-free survival (DFS) and full paper available in English. Acute and late toxicities were retrieved together with OS and DFS. Crude relative risk estimates of relapse and death comparing 2D/3D-RT versus IMRT were calculated from tabular data, extracting events at 2-3 years of follow-up. Eight studies were selected. Six of them were included in the meta-analysis considering summary relative risk. Considering both acute and late toxicities, the considered studies evidenced advantages for IMRT populations, with the 2D/3D-RT population showing higher frequencies than the IMRT one. No statistical difference between IMRT and 2D/3D-RT in terms of death (SRR = 0.93, 95% CI: 0.83-1.04 with no heterogeneity I2 = 0%) and relapse (SRR = 0.92, 95% CI: 0.83-1.03, with no heterogeneity I2 = 0%) was found. Results of our study suggest the improvement in the therapeutic index with IMRT with evidenced reduced toxicity without any worsening in clinical outcome when compared to 2D/3DCRT.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1644-1653
Number of pages10
JournalOral Diseases
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2021


  • Humans
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local/radiotherapy
  • Oropharyngeal Neoplasms/radiotherapy
  • Radiotherapy, Conformal/adverse effects
  • Radiotherapy, Intensity-Modulated/adverse effects
  • Treatment Outcome


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