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J Clin Oncol. 1985 Nov;3(11):1486-9.

A prospective evaluation of 5-fluorouracil plus cisplatin in advanced squamous-cell cancer of the head and neck.


Recent studies have shown improved efficacy of chemotherapy in patients with advanced squamous-cell cancer of the head and neck. Our purpose was to evaluate prospectively the activity of cisplatin plus 5-fluorouracil (5FU) in 37 patients with advanced stage IV squamous-cell cancer of the head and neck. There were two groups. Group 1 consisted of 19 previously untreated patients with either T4 or N3 disease. They received 100 mg/m2 cisplatin (days 1 and 28) and 120-hour infusion of 1,000 mg/m2/24 hours 5FU (days 1 to 5 and 28 to 32). They subsequently were offered preoperative radiotherapy (RT) and surgery. Group 2 consisted of 18 previously treated patients. They received 5FU and cisplatin in the same dosage every 28 days for either recurrent or metastatic disease. It was found that in group 1 there was an 84% response rate (five complete responses (CR) and 11 partial responses (PR) ). Three of those with PR achieved a CR after RT. Seven patients have had RT plus surgery and are disease free at 8 to 27 month follow-up. Six patients (one CR, five PR) refused surgery and progressed within 4 months. In group 2 there was an 11% response rate after two cycles (two PR), three patients had a minimal response (MR, less than 50% response) and received a mean of four cycles of treatment. Three patients with stable disease received a mean of four cycles of chemotherapy until progression. Two of 11 patients who had received previous chemotherapy plus RT showed an MR; nine of these patients had shown a response to their previous chemotherapy. Only one of 14 patients who had RT plus chemotherapy had a PR, and three had MR. Of five patients who had previous surgery, only one had a PR. All five had received chemotherapy as well. It was concluded that 5FU plus cisplatin is an effective combination in previously untreated patients. In previously treated patients with recurrent disease, there is a substantially lower response rate.

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