Aims: Predictors of outcome after radiotherapy alone for nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC) are now available from several retrospective studies. On the basis of these, it is theoretically possible to separate patients at risk of local failure from patients at risk of distant metastases (DM). According to classical principles of chemoradiotherapy timing, patients at risk of local failure would benefit mostly from concomitant chemoradiotherapy, whereas patients at risk distantly would benefit from sequential combinations.
Materials and methods: We reviewed the literature on combined chemoradiotherapy treatment for nasopharyngeal carcinoma to assess whether timing of combined treatment matches pattern of failure.
Results: Available data show a significant overlap of activity, sequential treatments reducing local failure and concomitant treatments reducing DM. Therefore, in the individual patient, the strict adoption of traditional risk profiles in therapeutic decision-making may not fully exploit all the potential therapeutic effects derived from the maximal association of both sequential and concomitant therapies.
Conclusion: Whether such combination is clinically worthwhile in every patient with locoregionally advanced nasopharyngeal carcinoma needs prospective validation, because of the high toxicity of this modality.