Medline: 3550340

Laryngoscope 97(4): 407-412, 1987.

The effects of delay in standard treatment due to induction chemotherapy in two randomized prospective studies.

Toohill RJ, Duncavage JA, Malin TC, et al.


It is often suggested that tumors will respond to induction chemotherapy and result in improved survival for patients with squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck. Two regimens of induction chemotherapy were studied in separate randomized, prospective trials over the last 6 years. Eighty-three patients with advanced disease were entered into the first study (43/chemotherapy; 40/control), and 60 into the second (27/chemotherapy; 33/control). Patient randomization was stratified by stage (III/IV) and site (oral cavity, oropharynx, nasopharynx, hypopharynx, larynx, paranasal sinuses). The first study utilized bleomycin, Cytoxan, methotrexate and 5-fluorouracil in two cycles (one cycle if no tumor response), followed by standard treatment which consisted of combined irradiation and surgery or, in some instances, primary irradiation alone. The second study utilized cisplatin and 5-fluorouracil in three cycles prior to standard treatment. An objective tumor response to chemotherapy was observed in 68% in the first study and 85% in the second. The patient survival in both studies (at 24 months in the first; at 19 in the second) was better in the control than that in the experimental groups (43% to 31%; 69% to 46%). In the second study, the average length of delay of standard treatment was longer than in the first study (95 days vs. 66 days; P less than .02). Results combining the P-values of both studies indicate that the relative risk of having persistent disease was 2.9 times greater for patients who received chemotherapy. While toxicity to chemotherapy was not a factor in survival, the number of patients who withdrew from the studies and those who did not comply with treatment were greater in the chemotherapy groups. Except for new drug regimens of exceptional promise, it is recommended that future studies be designed so that chemotherapy is given concurrent with, or following the completion of standard treatment.

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