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Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys. 1996 Dec 1;36(5):1005-12.

Does induction chemotherapy have a role in the management of nasopharyngeal carcinoma? Results of treatment in the era of computerized tomography.

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Department of Radiotherapy, The University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, Houston 77030, USA.



To assess the outcomes of patients with nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC) whose treatment was determined by computerized tomography (CT) and/or magnetic resonance imaging staging and to analyze the impact of induction chemotherapy and accelerated fractionated radiotherapy.


The analysis is based on 122 of 143 previously untreated patients with NPC treated with radiation therapy at The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center between 1983 and 1992. Excluded were 4 patients treated with palliative intent, 4 children, 12 patients not staged with CT, and 1 patient who died of a cerebrovascular accident prior to completion of treatment. The stage distribution was as follows: AJCC Stage I-2, Stage II-7, Stage III-12, Stage IV-101; Tl-15, T2-33, T3-22, T4-52; N0-32, N1-10, N2-47, N3-32, Nx-1. Fifty-nine (48%) patients had squamous cell carcinoma; 63 (52%) had lymphoepitheliomas, undifferentiated NPC or poorly differentiated carcinoma, NOS (UNPC). Sixty-seven patients (65 with Stage IV disease) received induction chemotherapy. Fifty-eight patients (24 of whom had induction chemotherapy) were treated with the concomitant boost fractionation schedule. The median follow-up for surviving patients was 57 months.


The overall actuarial 2- and 5-year survival rates were 78 and 68%, respectively. Forty-nine patients (40%) had disease recurrence. Thirty-three (27%) had local regional failures; 19 at the primary site only, 8 in the neck and 6 in both. Local failure occurred in 31% of patients staged T4 compared to 13% of T1-T3 (p = 0.007). Sixteen patients failed at distant sites alone. Among Stage IV patients the 5-year actuarial rates for patients who did and did not receive induction chemotherapy were as follows: overall survival: 68 vs. 56% (p = 0.02), freedom from relapse: 64 vs. 37% (p = 0.01), and local control: 86 vs. 56% (p = 0.009). The actuarial 5-year distant failure rate in patients with UNPC who were treated with induction chemotherapy and controlled in the primary and neck was 13%. In patients who did not receive chemotherapy, the actuarial 5-year local control rates for patients treated with concomitant boost or conventional fractionation were 66 and 67%, respectively.


While not providing conclusive evidence, this single institution experience suggests that neoadjuvant chemotherapy for Stage IV NPC patients improves both survival and disease control. Recurrence within the irradiated volume was the most prevalent mode of failure and future studies will evaluate regimens to enhance local regional control.

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