Sequential and synchronous chemo-radiotherapy in the management of locally advanced carcinoma of the head and neck

P. Antognoni, G. Camesasca, C. Bianchi, G. Nicoletti, E. Villa

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Thirty-nine consecutive patients with stage III-IV squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck entered a pilot study of sequential and synchronous chemo-radiotherapy. The study was planned as follows: two cycles of induction chemotherapy (MTX, BLM, DDP) followed by radical radiotherapy (66 Gy) with synchronous weekly administration of DDP (20 mg/m2) as a radiosensitizer. Out of the 39 patients evaluable for induction chemotherapy 25 (64%) achieved partial or complete response. Two patients underwent radical surgery after induction chemotherapy and 3 patients died of treatment. Out of the remaining 34 patients, 25 were untreated and 9 presented recurrence after primary surgery. Grade 4 mucositis was the major side effect of concurrent chemo-radiotherapy. Local control after synchronous therapy was obtained in 11 (44%) previously untreated patients and only in 1 (11%) patient of the surgically pre-treated group. At the time of the analysis 11 patients were alive, 8 of them free from disease (4 after salvage surgery). Actuarial 2-year survival for previously untreated patients was 33% and 24% for all the patients. This survival is not significantly different (log rank test) from that of a similar group of 24 patients treated at the same institution with radiotherapy alone. The important toxicity of the induction chemotherapy regimen and the poor 2-year survival do not show any benefit from such a combined approach in locally advanced head and neck carcinoma. Nevertheless, despite our disappointing results many data in the literature suggest a role for chemotherapy-based treatments of locally advanced head and neck cancer. Further controlled randomized studies are required to better define the place of chemotherapy in the multi-modality management of stage III-IV head and neck cancer.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)238-243
Number of pages6
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1990

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cancer Research


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