Purpose: Nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC) is highly sensitive to both radiotherapy (RT) and chemotherapy. This randomized phase III trial compared concurrent cisplatin-RT (CRT) with RT alone in patients with locoregionally advanced NPC.
Patients and methods: Patients with Ho's N2 or N3 stage or N1 stage with nodal size > or = 4 cm were randomized to receive cisplatin 40 mg/m(2) weekly up to 8 weeks concurrently with radical RT (CRT) or RT alone. The primary end point was progression-free survival (PFS).
Results: Three hundred fifty eligible patients were randomized. Baseline patient characteristics were comparable in both arms. There were significantly more toxicities, including mucositis, myelosuppression, and weight loss in the CRT arm. There were no treatment-related deaths in the CRT arm, and one patient died during treatment in the RT-alone arm. At a median follow-up of 2.71 years, the 2-year PFS was 76% in the CRT arm and 69% in the RT-alone arm (P =.10) with a hazards ratio of 1.367 (95% confidence interval [CI], 0.93 to 2.00). The treatment effect had a significant covariate interaction with tumor stage, and a subgroup analysis demonstrated a highly significant difference in favor of the CRT arm in Ho's stage T3 (P =.0075) with a hazards ratio of 2.328 (95% CI, 1.26 to 4.28). For T3 stage, the time to first distant failure was statistically significantly different in favor of the CRT arm (P =.016).
Conclusion: Concurrent CRT is well tolerated in patients with advanced NPC in endemic areas. Although PFS was not significantly different between the concurrent CRT arm and the RT-alone arm in the overall comparison, PFS was significantly prolonged in patients with advanced tumor and node stages.