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J Clin Oncol. 1991 Aug;9(8):1376-84.

Cisplatin and fluorouracil chemotherapy does not yield long-term benefit in locally advanced head and neck cancer: results from a single institution.

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Department of Medicine, The University of Chicago, IL.


Fifty-one patients with locally advanced head and neck cancer were treated with three cycles of cisplatin at 100 mg/m2 followed by 5-day continuous infusion fluorouracil (5-FU) at 1,000 mg/m2/d as induction chemotherapy. Subsequent local therapy consisted of surgery for patients with resectable disease and/or radiotherapy. Three cycles of adjuvant chemotherapy were administered to patients with partial response (PR) or complete response (CR) to induction chemotherapy. Twenty-two patients (43%) had a clinical CR that was pathologically confirmed in 12 patients (24%), and 24 patients (47%) had a PR for an overall response rate of 90%. Local therapy included surgery in 24 patients (47%) and radiotherapy alone in 22 patients (43%). Adjuvant chemotherapy was administered to 32 patients (63%) frequently at great dose reduction. At a median follow-up of 90 months, the median survival is 22 months (95% confidence interval, 15 to 36 months), and the 5-year survival is 25%, with only five patients known to be alive and disease-free at this time. The median time to progression is 14 months, with 29 patients (57%) having documented progression of their head and neck cancer and eight (16%) having progression of a second neoplasm. Seven patients died of intervening medical events. This high incidence of second malignancies supports the continued investigation of chemoprevention for patients in CR. Despite the known high response rates achieved with cisplatin and 5-FU induction chemotherapy, the overall poor survival data reported here should lead to a thorough reexamination of the frequent administration of this regimen in the community.

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