Radiation-associated tumours are rare complications of radiotherapy. This study seeks to highlight and discuss the clinically challenging problem of radiation-associated tumours (RATs) in the temporal bones of seven patients previously irradiated for nasopharyngeal neoplasm.
Seven patients (six males and one female) with radiation-associated temporal bone tumours are presented (five squamous cell carcinomas, one osteogenic sarcoma and one chondrosarcoma). The initial nasopharyngeal disease for which radiotherapy was indicated was nasopharyngeal carcinoma (six patients) and nasopharyngeal lymphoma (one patient). The latency period between radiotherapy and presentation of temporal bone tumours ranged from five years to 30 years with a mean of 12.9 years. All the patients underwent surgical tumour resection. Three patients had post-operative radiotherapy and one patient underwent pre- and post-perative chemotherapy. Two patients died from the disease within three months of treatment with one patient surviving 36 months at the time of writing. One patient died from an unrelated medical condition three months after surgery.
With refinement in radiotherapy techniques and the resultant increase in patient survival, there may be more patients with radiation-associated tumours in the future. It remains imperative for clinicians to be vigilant when patients previously irradiated for nasopharyngeal carcinoma present with otological symptoms as the key to the successful management of this condition lies in the early detection and expedient treatment of this difficult disease.
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