Medline: 1732427

Journal of Clinical Oncology 10(2): 257-263, 1992.

A phase III randomized study comparing cisplatin and fluorouracil as single agents and in combination for advanced squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck.

Jacobs C, Lyman G, Velez-Garcia E, et al.


To determine whether combination chemotherapy is superior to single agents for recurrent/metastatic head and neck cancer, we compared the efficacy and toxicity of cisplatin (CP) and fluorouracil (5-FU), alone and in combination in a phase III trial.

Patients and Methods:
Two hundred forty-nine patients with recurrent head and neck cancer were randomized to one of three treatments: CP (100 mg/m2) and 5-FU (1 g/m2 x 4), CP, or 5-FU every 3 weeks.

The overall response rate to the combination (32%) was superior to that of CP (17%) or 5-FU (13%) (P = .035). Response was associated with good performance status (PS) but not with primary site, site of recurrence, histology, prior irradiation, or relative dose intensity. Median time to progression was less than 2.5 months, and there was no significant difference in median survival (5.7 months) among the groups. By multivariate analysis, patients with better PS and poorly differentiated tumors had superior survival. Hematologic toxicity and alopecia were worse in the combination arm.

Although the response rate to the combination of CP plus 5-FU was superior to that achieved with single agents, survival did not improve.

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Dr. G. Quade