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Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys. 1995 Oct 15;33(3):569-77.

A prospective randomized study of chemotherapy adjunctive to definitive radiotherapy in advanced nasopharyngeal carcinoma.

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Department of Clinical Oncology, Prince of Wales Hospital, Shatin, Hong Kong.



A prospective randomized trial was conducted to compare chemoradiotherapy against radiotherapy alone in the treatment of locoregionally advanced nasopharyngeal carcinoma.


Eighty-two patients with histologically proven nasopharyngeal carcinoma who had either Ho's N3 staging or any N stage with a nodal diameter of > or = 4 cm were entered. Seventy-seven patients were evaluated for tumor response and survival. The patients were randomized to receive two cycles of cisplatin 100 mg/m2 Day 1,5-fluorouracil 1000 mg/m2 24-h infusion Days 2, 3, and 4 before radical radiotherapy, and four cycles of postradiotherapy chemotherapy (37 patients) or radiotherapy alone (40 patients). All patients received radical radiotherapy to the nasopharynx and neck. The nasopharynx and upper neck were treated to 66 Gy by conventional fractionation and the lower neck to 58 Gy. Booster radiotherapy (7.5 Gy/two fractions/week) was given to any residual nodes after standard radiotherapy.


The patient characteristics, including staging, were similar in both arms. The overall response rate to neoadjuvant chemotherapy was 81% (19% complete response, 62% partial response). The rates of radiotherapy for boosting parapharyngeal disease or residual lymph nodes were not significantly different in the two arms. The overall complete response rate to chemoradiotherapy was 100%, and to radiotherapy alone, 95%. Toxicities in the chemoradiotherapy arm were mainly myelosuppression, nephrotoxicity, and nausea and vomiting. The degree of mucositis was not significantly different in the two arms. There was no treatment-related death. The median follow up was 28.5 months. The 2-year overall survival was 80% in the chemoradiotherapy arm and 80.5% in the radiotherapy arm. The 2-year disease-free survival was 68% in the chemoradiotherapy arm and 72% in the radiotherapy arm, without significant difference between the two arms. The locoregional relapse rate, distant metastatic rate, and median time to relapse were also not significantly different between the two arms.


Despite promising tumor response rates from Phase II trials, this prospective randomized trial has demonstrated no benefit from adjunctive chemotherapy to radiotherapy in the treatment of locoregionally advanced nasopharyngeal carcinoma.

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