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J Clin Oncol. 2009 Jan 10;27(2):242-9. doi: 10.1200/JCO.2008.18.1545. Epub 2008 Dec 8.

Randomized phase II trial of concurrent cisplatin-radiotherapy with or without neoadjuvant docetaxel and cisplatin in advanced nasopharyngeal carcinoma.

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Department of Clinical Oncology, Prince of Wales Hospita, Hong Kong SAR, China.



To compare the toxicities, tumor control, survival, and quality of life of nasopharyngeal cancer (NPC) patients treated with sequential neoadjuvant chemotherapy followed by concurrent cisplatin-radiotherapy (CRT) or CRT alone.


Previously untreated stage III to IVB NPC were randomly assigned to (1) neoadjuvant docetaxel 75 mg/m(2) and cisplatin 75 mg/m(2) every 3 weeks for two cycles, followed by cisplatin 40 mg/m(2)/wk concurrent with radiotherapy, or (2) CRT alone. Planned accrual was 30 patients per arm to detect 20% difference of toxicities based on 95% CIs.


From November 2002 to November 2004, 65 eligible patients were randomly assigned to neoadjuvant chemotherapy followed by CRT (n = 34) or CRT alone (n = 31). There was a high rate of grade 3/4 neutropenia (97%) but not neutropenic fever (12%) during neoadjuvant chemotherapy. No significant differences in rates of acute toxicities were observed between the two arms during CRT. Dose intensities of concurrent cisplatin, late RT toxicities and quality of life scores were comparable in both arms. The 3-year progression-free survival for neoadjuvant versus control arm was 88.2% and 59.5% (hazard ratio = 0.49; 95% CI, 0.20 to 1.19; P = .12). The 3-year overall survival for neoadjuvant versus control arm was 94.1% and 67.7% (hazard ratio = 0.24; 95% CI, 0.078 to 0.73; P = .012).


Neoadjuvant docetaxel-cisplatin followed by CRT was well tolerated with a manageable toxicity profile that allowed subsequent delivery of full-dose CRT. Preliminary results suggested a positive impact on survival. A phase III study to definitively test this neoadjuvant-concurrent strategy is warranted.

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