Changes in head and neck tumor hypoxic fraction during split-course radiochemotherapy

Rainer Jund*, Horst Jürgen Feldmann, Peter Stadler, Barbara Wollenberg, Michael Molls

*Corresponding author for this work
6 Citations (Scopus)


This study explored patterns of oxygen distribution in human tumors during primary radiochemotherapy. Patients with positive nodes from head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (n = 15) were investigated before therapy, before and after a 2-week respite, and at the end of the treatment. Intratumoral tissue oxygen tension (pO2) was measured with sterile polarographic needle electrodes and a computerized histography system. The 2 lowest pO2 classes, ie, 0 and 5 mm Hg, were designated the hypoxic fraction, and the mean and median pO2 were evaluated for each tumor. In the beginning, a marked variability in tissue pO2 was found. The initial size of the hypoxic fraction ranged from 0% to 61% of measured values. At the end of treatment, 4 tumors showed an increase in mean pO2, and 7 tumors a lower mean pO2 in comparison to the initial values. However, an impressive finding was that the hypoxic fraction of 9 tumors became smaller during the pause, 1 tumor showed no change, and 1 showed an increase in hypoxic fraction. The results show that there is a widely distributed tissue oxygenation with marked hypoxic zones in human neck nodes. During radiochemotherapy, tissue oxygenation changed, with great intertumor variability. A tendency toward a decrease of the hypoxic fraction after the respite could be seen. This change in tumor oxygenation during therapy needs further evaluation.

Original languageEnglish
JournalAnnals of Otology, Rhinology and Laryngology
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)73-78
Number of pages6
Publication statusPublished - 1999


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