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Ann Surg Oncol. 2012 Jun;19(6):1980-7. doi: 10.1245/s10434-012-2219-4.

Comparison of acute toxicities in two primary chemoradiation regimens in the treatment of advanced head and neck squamous cell carcinoma.

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Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD, USA.



The optimal dosage and frequency of platinum-based chemoradiotherapy (CRT) regimen for treating advanced head and neck squamous cell carcinoma remains unresolved. This study aims to compare the toxicity and efficacy of weekly versus more dose-intensive cisplatin-based CRTs.


We reviewed 155 stage III/IV head and neck squamous cell carcinoma patients with no evidence of distant metastasis treated with one of two CRT regimens from 2000 to 2010 at Greater Baltimore Medical Center. Twice-daily radiation was provided as a split course over a 45-day period. Regimen A consisted of concomitant cisplatin (30 mg/m2/1 h) weekly for 6 cycles; regimen B consisted of concomitant cisplatin (12 mg/m2/1 h) and 5-fluorouracil (600 mg/m2/20 h) on days 1 through 5 and days 29 through 33. Main outcome measures included acute toxicities (myelosuppression, neurotoxicity, nephrotoxicity, gastrointestinal dysfunction), unplanned hospitalizations, and disease control at 12 months.


Patients on regimen A were much less likely to experience ototoxicity due to their treatment (0% vs. 9.8%, P = 0.04). They were more likely to experience thrombocytopenia acutely (46% vs. 26%, P = 0.02), but the toxicity was not limiting (grade 1–2). No significant differences exist in the incidence of other toxicities or unplanned hospitalizations. At 1 year, 97% of patients on A vs. 86% of patients on regimen B were free of disease (P = 0.11).


With concurrent radiotherapy, low-dose, single-agent, weekly cisplatin is less likely than higher-dose daily cisplatin plus 5-fluorouracil provided at the beginning and end of treatment to be associated with ototoxicity. The preliminary data suggest at least equivalent efficacy, but longer follow-up is required.

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