ROC-oN: Radiotherapy for Oropharyngeal Cancer and impact on Neurocognition

Project start date: November 2022

Expected end date: November 2023

Background: Patients treated with radiotherapy for oropharyngeal cancer (OPC) receive a low dose of radiotherapy to the base of the brain. This could lead to late effects including fatigue and neurocognitive deficits (in e.g., memory, language, processing speed, attention, and executive functioning).

Aim: Our overall aim is to evaluate long term fatigue and neurocognitive impairment in patients who have received radiotherapy for oropharyngeal cancer.

Study design: Cross-sectional, mixed methods study

Study sample: Patients will be recruited from Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust and The Christie NHS Foundation Trust. Eligibility criteria: adult oropharyngeal patients, irradiated over the previous 10 years , ≥ 2 years after treatment, and remain disease free (n~1000).

Study outcomes: The study outcomes can help with better information provision, management and/or mitigation of late effects of radiotherapy. It will help determine whether the base of the brain should be avoided when treating future head and neck cancer patients with radiotherapy and will encourage inclusion of neurocognitive function as a primary or secondary endpoint in future head and neck cancer radiotherapy trials.

Research Team:

Dr Louise Murray (Principal Investigator) 

Dr Florien Boele (Co-Principal Investigator) 

Dr Emma Nicklin 

Dr Zsuzsanna Iyizoba Ebozue  

Dr James Price 

Prof David Thomson   

Dr Robin Prestwich  

Dr John Lilley  

Dr Matthew Lowe