Treatment outcome for synchronous locoregional failures of nasopharyngeal carcinoma

Head Neck. 2003 Jul;25(7):585-94. doi: 10.1002/hed.10242.


Background: To review the outcome and evaluate the prognostic factors in the treatment of synchronous locoregional failures of nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC).

Methods: We reviewed the records of 43 patients with synchronous locoregional failures of NPC who received salvage treatment or chemotherapy between November 1986 and January 2001. The recurrent disease was stage II in 61%, stage III in 30%, and stage IV in 9%. The local disease was rT1-2 in 67% and rT3-4 in 33%, and the regional disease was rN1 in 91% and rN2 in 9%. Persistent disease, defined as failures within 4 months of completion of primary radiotherapy, occurred in 53.5% and recurrent disease in 46.5%. Seventeen patients received surgery for regional and/or local failures with or without combined radiotherapy (ST group), 14 patients received reirradiation to both local and regional disease (RT group), and 12 patients received palliative chemotherapy only (CT group). The median follow-up was 18 months (range, 4-153) and for the surviving patients it was 29 months (range, 6-153).

Results: The 3-year relapse-free survival (RFS) rate and disease-specific survival (DSS) rate after salvage treatment or chemotherapy were 17% and 38%, respectively. The 3-year RFS rates in stage II, III, and IV disease were 25%, 8%, and 0%, respectively. The corresponding 3-year DSS rates were 43%, 28%, and 38%. The 3-year RFS rates in the ST, RT, and CT group were 39%, 7%, and 0%, respectively. The corresponding 3-year DSS rates were 55%, 25%, and 25%. Patients whose local disease was treated by surgical resection had a 3-year local control rate of 71% compared with 38% by reirradiation using brachytherapy or external radiotherapy. For regional disease, the 3-year nodal control rate after radical neck dissection was 65% compared with 24% by reirradiation. Further locoregional failure represents the major failure pattern, and the proportion of patients who had further local, regional, and both locoregional failures were 16%, 9%, and 53%, respectively. Distant metastasis occurred in 30% of patients, and only 5% had isolated distant metastasis in the absence of locoregional failures. On multivariate analysis, treatment by reirradiation or chemotherapy alone and rN2 disease were independent factors that predicted poor survival, whereas treatment by reirradiation or chemotherapy alone was the only independent factor that predicted further relapse or failure.

Conclusions: Proper selection of patients for aggressive salvage treatment and individualization of treatment are important in managing patients with synchronous locoregional failures of NPC. A significant proportion of patients with early stage locoregional failures can still achieve long-term disease control and survival after aggressive salvage treatment using surgery with or without combined radiotherapy. In patients with more advanced disease, treatment by reirradiation alone or palliative chemotherapy is largely ineffective and is associated with a poor outcome.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Carcinoma / pathology*
  • Carcinoma / therapy*
  • Chemotherapy, Adjuvant
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Nasopharyngeal Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Nasopharyngeal Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Neck Dissection
  • Neoplasm Metastasis
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local / pathology*
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local / therapy*
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Prognosis
  • Radiotherapy, Adjuvant
  • Salvage Therapy
  • Survival Analysis
  • Time Factors
  • Treatment Outcome