Induction chemotherapy followed by alternating chemo-radiotherapy in non-endemic undifferentiated carcinoma of the nasopharynx: Optimal compliance and promising 4-year results

Anna Ponzanelli, Viviana Vigo, Michela Marcenaro, Almalina Bacigalupo, Beatrice Gatteschi, Jean Luis Ravetti, Renzo Corvò, Marco Benasso

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Concomitant chemo-radiotherapy is the standard treatment for advanced nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC). Induction chemotherapy may improve the results further by enhancing both loco-regional and distant control. Fifty patients with untreated, stage IV (UICC 1992) undifferentiated NPC were initially treated with three courses of epidoxorubicin, 90 mg/m2, day 1 and cisplatin, 40 mg/m2, days 1 and 2, every three weeks and then underwent three courses of cisplatin, 20 mg/m2/day, days 1-4 and fluorouracil, 200 mg/m2/day, days 1-4 (weeks 1, 4, 7), alternated to three splits of radiation (week 2-3, 5-6, 8-9-10) up to 70 Gy. All patients but one received 3 cycles of induction chemotherapy. Toxicities from induction chemotherapy were grade III or IV mucositis (2%), grade III or IV nausea/vomiting (22%), grade III or IV hematological toxicity (6%). At the end of induction phase 12% of CRs, 84% of PRs were recorded. Toxicities from alternating chemo-radiotherapy were grade III or IV mucositis (30%), grade III or IV nausea/vomiting (8%), grade III or IV hematological toxicity (24%). Overall, 86% of CRs and 14% of PRs were observed. Four-year progression free survival and overall survival rates are 71% and 81%, respectively. In a small number of patients studied, no correlation between the level of EGFR overexpression and outcomes was detected. In locally advanced UNPC our combined program including induction chemotherapy followed by alternating chemo-radiotherapy is active and gives promising long-term outcomes with acceptable toxicity and optimal patients' compliance. This program merits to be tested in a phase III trial.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)767-774
Number of pages8
JournalOral Oncology
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2008



  • Alternating chemo-radiotherapy
  • Induction chemotherapy nasopharyngeal cancer

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology

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