Background: The addition of gemcitabine may be a reasonable way to enhance the activity of the alternating cisplatin/5-fluorouracil and radiation regimen considered the referring approach for patients with advanced squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) of the head and neck at the National Institute for Cancer Research of Genoa. Methods: Three courses of cisplatin, 20 mg/m2/day and 5-fluorouracil, 200 mg/m2/day, days 1-5 (weeks 1, 4, and 7) alternated to 3 courses of radiotherapy at standard fractionation (weeks 2-3, 5-6, 8-9) up to 60 Gy, and gemcitabine, 50 mg/m2 on monday of each week of radiation, were administered to 47 patients with stage IV (42 patients) or relapsed after surgery (5 patients), SCC of the oral cavity, pharynx or larynx. Results: Eighty-five percent of the patients completed the planned treatment. Main grade 3-4 acute toxicities were: mucositis (40%), neutropenia (26%) and thrombocytopenia (30%). Twenty-seven patients reached a complete response (57%). Seven partial responders were rendered disease-free by surgery (final complete response rate: 72%). At a median follow-up of 37 months, 3-year overall survival, progression-free survival and loco-regional control are 50%, 43% and 54%, respectively. Conclusions: The addition of gemcitabine at low dose to our referring alternating regimen is feasible and very active. It may improve the long-term outcomes despite an acceptable increase of acute mucoseal toxicity.
- Head and neck
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging