BACKGROUND:The purpose of this study was to establish a risk stratification model for feeding tube use in patients who undergo intensity-modulated radiotherapy (IMRT) for head and neck cancers. METHODS:One hundred thirty-nine patients treated with definitive IMRT (+/- concurrent chemotherapy) for head and neck mucosal cancers were included in this study. Patients were recommended a prophylactic feeding tube and followed up by a dietician for at least 8 weeks postradiotherapy (post-RT). Potential prognostic factors were analyzed for risk and duration of feeding tube use for at least 25% of dietary requirements. RESULTS:Many variables had significant effects on risk and/or duration of feeding tube use in univariate analyses. Subsequent multivariable analysis showed that T classification ≥3 and level 2 lymphadenopathy were the best independent significant predictors of higher risk and duration of feeding tube use, respectively, in oral cavity, pharyngeal, and supraglottic primaries. CONCLUSION:In patients treated with definitive IMRT, T classification ≥3 and level 2 lymphadenopathy can potentially stratify patients into 4 risk groups for developing severe dysphagia requiring feeding tube use.