Background: Patients with resected oral cavity squamous cell carcinoma (OCSCC) are often treated with adjuvant radiation (RT) ± concomitant chemotherapy based on pathological findings. Standard RT volumes include all surgically dissected areas, including the tumour bed and dissected neck. RT has significant acute and long-term toxicities including odynophagia, dysphagia, dermatitis and fibrosis. The goal of this study is to assess the rate of regional failure with omission of radiation to the surgically dissected pathologically node negative (pN0) hemi-neck(s) compared to historical control, and to compare oncologic outcomes, toxicity, and quality of life (QoL) profiles between standard RT volumes and omission of RT to the pN0 neck.

Methods: This is a multicentre phase II study randomizing 90 patients with T1-4 N0-2 OCSCC with at least one pN0 hemi-neck in a 1:2 ratio between standard RT volumes and omission of RT to the pN0 hemi-neck(s). Patients will be stratified based on overall nodal status (nodal involvement vs. no nodal involvement) and use of concurrent chemotherapy. The primary endpoint is regional failure in the pN0 hemi-neck(s); we hypothesize that a 2-year regional recurrence of 20% or less will be achieved. Secondary endpoints include overall and progression-free survival, local recurrence, rate of salvage therapy, toxicity and QoL.

Discussion: This study will provide an assessment of omission of RT to the dissected pN0 hemi-neck(s) on oncologic outcomes, QoL and toxicity. Results will inform the design of future definitive phase III trials.

Trial registration: Clinicaltrials.gov identifier: NCT03997643 . Date of registration: June 25, 2019, Current version: 2.0 on July 11 2020.

Keywords: De-escalation; Head and neck cancer; Oral cavity; Quality of life; Radiotherapy; Randomized controlled trial; Recurrence; Survival.

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