Background: Docetaxel is one of the most promising new drugs against squamous-cell carcinoma of the head and neck (SCCHN), while cisplatin is one of the most active single agents. A phase I study has shown the feasibility of the combination of the two drugs, and activity in SCCHN has been seen. Patients and methods: Patients with locally advanced, inoperable, or metastatic SCCHN, never pretreated with radiotherapy or chemotherapy, received three courses of docetaxel 75 mg/m2 and cisplatin 100 mg/m2, every three weeks. Thereafter, responsive metastatic patients received additional chemotherapy, while patients with locally advanced disease underwent radiation therapy. Results: Forty-six patients (forty-five with locally advanced, one with metastatic disease) were entered into the study. Ten patients did not complete three courses of chemotherapy because of early death; one patient discontinued treatment after one course. Twenty-one objective responses were observed (46%, 95% confidence interval (CI): 31%-60%), including five complete responses (11%) and sixteen partial responses (35%). Following induction chemotherapy plus radiation therapy, 9 of 21 evaluable patients were rendered disease free, while 8 additional patients had a partial response. After a median following of 18 months, the median duration of response was 12 months, (range 3-25+), and the median overall survival was 11 months. Six early deaths were considered possibly treatment-related (sepsis following grade 4 neutropenia in two cases, hypovolemic shock following severe diarrhea in four cases). Neutropenia was the most severe toxicity (grade 3-4 in 28 patients, median duration 4 days); diarrhea and vomiting were the most troublesome non-haematologic toxicities (grade 4 in 4 and 3 patients, respectively). Conclusions: The combination of docetaxel and cisplatin is active in SCCHN, but toxicity is substantial. This schedule does not appear to offer any advantage compared with conventional regimens.
- Squamous-cell carcinoma of the head and neck
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cancer Research