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J Clin Oncol. 2001 Dec 1;19(23):4305-13.

Induction chemotherapy with mitomycin, epirubicin, cisplatin, fluorouracil, and leucovorin followed by radiotherapy in the treatment of locoregionally advanced nasopharyngeal carcinoma.

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  • 1Department of Oncology, National Taiwan University Hospital, National Taiwan University, Taipei.



Survival in advanced nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC) is compromised by distant metastasis. Because mitomycin is active against hypoxic and G0 cells, which may help to eradicate micrometastasis, we investigated the effect of mitomycin-containing cisplatin-based induction chemotherapy.


Recruited for this study were American Joint Committee on Cancer (AJCC) 1992 staging system stage IV NPC patients with the following adverse features: obvious intracranial invasion, supraclavicular or bilateral neck lymph node metastasis, large neck node (> 6 cm), or elevated serum lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) level. Patients were given three cycles of chemotherapy before radiotherapy. The chemotherapy comprised a 3-week cycle of mitomycin, epirubicin, and cisplatin on day 1 and fluorouracil and leucovorin on day 8 (MEPFL).


From January 1994 to December 1997, 111 patients were recruited. The median follow-up period was 43 months. The actuarial 5-year overall survival rate was 70% (95% confidence interval [CI], 60% to 80%; n = 111). For patients having completed radiotherapy (n = 100), the 5-year locoregional control rate was 70% (95% CI, 55% to 84%) and the distant metastasis-free rate was 81% (95% CI, 73% to 89%). The 5-year distant metastasis-free rate of N3a and N3b disease of AJCC 1997 staging system were 79% (95% CI, 62% to 95%) and 74% (95% CI, 60% to 89%), respectively. By Cox multivariate analysis, high pretreatment serum LDH level (P = .04) and neck nodal enlargement before radiotherapy (P = .001) were adverse prognostic factors of survival.


The good 5-year survival of N3 disease supports the effectiveness of induction MEPFL in the primary treatment of advanced NPC. Further investigation to incorporate concurrent chemoradiotherapy is warranted.

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