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Oncol Rep. 2003 May-Jun;10(3):759-66.

Six-week induction chemotherapy followed by concomitant chemoradiation therapy in stage IV head and neck cancer: a phase II study with organ-sparing purposes.

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Cattedra e Divisione di Oncologia Medica, Policlinico Universitario di Cagliari, Presidio di Monserrato, Strada Statale 554, bivio Sestu, 09042 Monserrato, Cagliari, Italy.


The purpose of the study was to assess response rate, clinical outcome, organ/function preservation and toxicity in head and neck cancer patients treated with induction chemotherapy followed by concomitant chemoradiotherapy and, when necessary, limited surgery. The study was a phase II non-randomized trial. Induction chemotherapy consisted of 6 weekly doses of carboplatin at AUC of 2 and docetaxel 30 mg/m(2) (1 h) followed by 5 cycles of docetaxel 25 mg/m(2)/day 1, 5-FU 600 mg/m(2) c.i. days 1-5, hydroxyurea 500 mg orally every 12 h for 11 and concomitant twice daily radiation therapy at 150 cGy/fraction given every other week per 5 cycles (TFHX), for a total radiation dose of 75 Gy. 13 cis-retinoic acid was administered for chemoprevention and systematic prophylaxis of mucositis with systemic amifostine and local GM-CSF was administered to all patients during TFHX. Conservative surgical resection was reserved to patients with no optimal response (PR > or =70%), whereas radical surgery was performed as salvage treatment. Thirteen patients (mean age 54.9 years, range 44-62; 12/13 site oropharynx, all stage IV) were enrolled: 31% of patients had ECOG performance status (PS) 0 and 69% had PS 1. Response to induction chemotherapy was analyzed in 12 patients: 2/12 (16.7%) achieved a partial response (PR) for an overall response (ORR) of 16.7%, 10/12 (83.3%) achieved stable disease (SD). TFHX was administered to 7 patients: 2 patients (28.6%) had complete remission (CR), 1 patient (14.3%) had PR for an ORR of 42.9%, 3 patients (42.8%) had SD and 1 patient (14.3%) had PD. At the completion of TFHX, 1 patient underwent local therapy. The toxicity was mild and consisted in: grade 3/4 neutropenia (7.7%), anemia (23.1%), diarrhea (15.4%), mucositis (7.7%), neurotoxicity (7.7%) during induction chemotherapy. During TFHX only 42.8% of grade 3/4 mucositis was observed. All patients spared organ/function. In conclusion, this regimen has been found feasible for its acceptable toxicity, particularly mucositis. However, the overall response rate and the data on survival were not satisfactory.

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