Send to

Choose Destination
Cancer. 1999 Apr 1;85(7):1446-53.

The time course of histologic remission after treatment of patients with nasopharyngeal carcinoma.

Author information

Department of Radiation Oncology, University of Hong Kong, Queen Mary Hospital, Pokfulam, China.



The objective of this study was to define the time course of histologic remission and to evaluate the prognostic significance of delayed histologic remission of patients with nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC).


Between 1986-1994, 803 patients underwent serial postradiotherapy nasopharyngeal biopsies. Patients with positive histology underwent repeated biopsies every 2 weeks until the biopsies were found to be negative or, if remission did not occur by the 12th week after radiotherapy, treatment was initiated for persistent disease. Patients with positive histology found after the fifth week but who achieved spontaneous remission before the twelfth week were considered to have delayed histologic remission. Negative histology by the sixth week was considered early histologic remission. The outcome of patients with delayed histologic remission, early histologic remission, and persistent disease were compared.


Six hundred and seventeen patients (76.8%) had negative histology within 12 weeks of the completion of radiotherapy and 55 (6.9%) had persistent disease at Week 12. In 131 patients (16.3%) spontaneous remission was observed in repeat biopsies after initial positive histology. With increasing time after radiotherapy, the incidence of positive histology decreased but more patients were found to have persistent disease. Patients with early and delayed histologic remission had 5-year NPC control rates of 82.4% and 76.8%, respectively (P = 0.35) versus a 40% NPC control rate among patients with persistent disease (P < 0.001). The 5-year survival rates were 75.3%, 79.4%, and 54.2%, respectively, for the 3 groups (P < 0.001).


A high proportion of early positive histology remitted spontaneously. Delayed histologic remission in NPC patients is not a poor prognostic factor and additional treatment is not necessary. A confirmatory biopsy at 10 weeks is recommended before the initiation of salvage treatment.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Loading ...
Support Center