Sarcopenia and its impact in head and neck cancer treatment

Remco de Bree, Maartje A van Beers, Anouk W M A Schaeffers

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

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PURPOSE OF REVIEW: The aim of this review is to discuss recent studies on the assessment of sarcopenia and its predictive and prognostic value in head and neck cancer (HNC) patients.

RECENT FINDINGS: There is increasing evidence that low skeletal muscle mass (SMM), often named sarcopenia, can easily be assessed on cross-sectional imaging of the head and neck and is associated with chemotherapy (dose limiting) and radiotherapy toxicity and survival.

SUMMARY: SMM measurement at the level of the third cervical vertebra (C3) on routine computed tomography and magnetic resonance imaging is easy and robust to perform. Several studies have shown a significantly higher incidence of cisplatin dose limiting toxicity in HNC patients with a low SMM. In HNC patients pretreatment low SMM is associated with acute and late toxicity and adverse events of radiotherapy, complications of major head and neck surgery and decreased disease-specific and overall survival. This information can be used for individualized treatment planning in HNC patients with low SMM.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)87-93
Number of pages7
JournalCurrent Opinion in Otolaryngology & Head and Neck Surgery
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2022


  • Cervical Vertebrae
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms/pathology
  • Humans
  • Muscle, Skeletal/pathology
  • Prognosis
  • Sarcopenia/complications
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed
  • toxicity
  • head and neck cancer
  • survival
  • skeletal muscle mass
  • sarcopenia


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