A Phase II/III Study Comparing Proton Radiation Therapy with Photon Radiation Therapy in People with Oropharyngeal Cancer of the Head and Neck


Full Title

Phase II/III Randomized Trial of Intensity-Modulated Proton Beam Therapy (IMPT) Versus Intensity-Modulated Photon Therapy (IMRT) for the Treatment of Oropharyngeal Cancer of the Head and Neck


Conventional radiation therapy is called photon therapy and uses x-ray beams to treat cancer. Proton therapy differs from photon therapy because the proton particles can stop shortly after passing through a tumor, and may therefore cause less damage to nearby healthy tissues. Both types of radiation therapy are used to treat head and neck cancers, and both are known to cause side effects such as fatigue, dry mouth, and skin irritation.

 The purpose of this study is to compare the side effects and effectiveness of intensity-modulated photon therapy (IMRT) and intensity-modulated proton beam therapy (IMPT) in patients with oropharyngeal cancer. Patients will be randomly assigned to receive one treatment type or the other. IMRT will be given at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and IMPT will be given at the New York Proton Center.


To be eligible for this study, patients must meet several criteria, including but not limited to the following:

  • Patients must have stage III or IV squamous cell carcinoma of the oropharynx that has not been treated yet with radiation therapy.
  • Patients must be able to walk and do routine activities for more than half of their normal waking hours.
  • This study is for patients age 18 and older.

For more information about this study and to inquire about eligibility, please contact Dr. Nancy Lee at 212-639-3341.