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J Clin Oncol. 2007 Oct 20;25(30):4800-5.

Phase II study of low-dose paclitaxel and cisplatin in combination with split-course concomitant twice-daily reirradiation in recurrent squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck: results of Radiation Therapy Oncology Group Protocol 9911.

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Fox Chase Cancer Center, Philadelphia, PA 19111, USA.



Recurrent squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck (SCCHN) or new second primary tumor (SPT) in a previous radiation field, if not curable by surgery or radiation, is almost always fatal. Chemotherapy alone yields a median survival time (MST) of no more than 10 months and 1-year overall survival (OS) of 35% at best. Concurrent reirradiation and chemotherapy is an alternative strategy.


Eligibility for Radiation Therapy Oncology Group (RTOG) protocol 9911 stipulated recurrent SCCHN or SPT in a previous radiation field. Patients received twice-daily radiation (1.5 Gy per fraction bid x 5 days every 2 weeks x4), plus cisplatin 15 mg/m2 intravenously (IV) daily x 5 and paclitaxel 20 mg/m2 IV daily x 5 every 2 weeks x4. Granulocyte colony-stimulated factor was administered days 6 through 13 of each 2-week cycle.


One hundred five patients were enrolled from March 2000 through June 2003; 23% had SPT. Oropharynx (40%) and oral cavity (27%) were the predominant primary sites. Median prior radiation dose was 65.4 Gy. Seventy-four percent of patients completed chemotherapy. Grade 4 or worse acute toxicity occurred in 28%, grade 4 or worse acute hematologic toxicity in 21%. Eight treatment-related deaths (8%) occurred: five in the acute setting, three late (including two carotid hemorrhages). MST was 12.1 months, with estimated 1- and 2-year OS rates of 50.2% and 25.9%.


Despite a high incidence of grade 5 toxicity, 1- and 2-year OS rates for split-course bid radiation therapy and concurrent cisplatin/paclitaxel exceed results generally seen with chemotherapy alone.

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