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Head & Neck Oncology

Open Access

Photodynamic therapy as the "last hope" for tongue-based carcinoma

  • Waseem Jerjes1,
  • Tahwinder Upile1,
  • Zaid Hamdoon1,
  • Farai Nhembe1,
  • Rishi Bhandari1,
  • Sorcha Mackay1,
  • Charles Alexander Mosse1,
  • Simon Morley1 and
  • Colin Hopper1
Head & Neck Oncology20102(Suppl 1):O27

Published: 29 October 2010


The management of base of tongue carcinoma continue to be a major challenge in head and neck oncology. Our aim in this prospective study was to evaluate the outcome following ultrasound-guided interstitial photodynamic therapy (US-iPDT) of stage IV tongue base carcinoma. Patients’ reports on quality of life with clinical and radiological evaluation were the main end point parameters used to assess the outcome.


Thirty-three consecutive patients were referred to the UCLH Head and Neck Centre for treatment of advanced tongue base cancer. Two-thirds of the patients had not been offered further treatment. It was decided that the only available option is to offer US-iPDT under general anaesthesia, using mTHPC as the photosensitising agent. Following treatment, patients were followed-up for a mean of 18 months (Min 8, Max 44).


11/14 patients who presented with breathing problems reported improvement after treatment. Also, 28/33 reported improvement of swallowing. Improvement of speaking was reported by 15/18 patients.

Clinical assessment showed that two-thirds of the patients had “good response” to the treatment and a third reported “moderate response”. Radiological assessment comparing imaging 6-week post-PDT to the baseline showed stable pathology with no change in size in 6 patients, minimal response in 7 patients, moderate response in 12 patients and significant response in 5 patients.

Eleven patients died; Seven of which due to locoregional metastasis. Kaplan-Meir survival curve was generated from the survival and follow-up data.


Photodynamic therapy is a successful palliative modality in the treatment of advanced tongue base carcinoma.

Authors’ Affiliations

UCL Department of Surgery, University College London Medical School


© Jerjes et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. 2010

This article is published under license to BioMed Central Ltd.