A prospective randomized study is comparing intravenous (IV; arm A) versus subcutaneous (SC; arm B) administration of amifostine in patients receiving radiotherapy for head and neck cancer. Main eligibility criteria were newly diagnosed squamous cell head and neck cancer, inclusion of at least 75% of both parotid glands within radiation fields that would receive at least 40 Gy, and no evidence of distant metastasis. Prophylactic use of pilocarpine and concomitant chemotherapy were prohibited. Intravenous administration of amifostine is 200 mg/m2/d in a short 3-minute infusion 15 to 30 minutes before each fraction of radiotherapy. Subcutaneous administration is 500 mg/d in two, slow 1.25-mL injections at two different sites 20 to 60 minutes before each radiotherapy fraction. Antiemetic treatment and blood pressure monitoring are required in both arms. As of April 25, 2002, 111 of the 292 required patients were included. Data are available for the first 54 patients. Acute toxicity included nausea/vomiting (12% for arm A; 13% for arm B), hypotension (6% in arm A; 0% in arm B), skin rash (15% in arm A; 16% in arm B), and asthenia (4% in arm A; 0% in arm B). Compliance with amifostine administration was 70% in arm A (IV) and 80% in arm B (SC). The rate of acute xerostomia (> or = grade 2) was 23% in arm A and 19% in arm B. These preliminary results indicate that tolerance is better with SC than IV administration, particularly because of the absence of hypotension. The absence of hypotension with SC administration facilitates patient monitoring and management in radiotherapy departments. More patients and data are required to assess the long-term efficacy of SC administration on acute and late xerostomia.
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