Purpose: To report the results and corresponding acute and late reactions of a prospective, randomized, clinical study in locally advanced head and neck cancer comparing concurrent fluorouracil (FU) and mitomycin (MMC) chemotherapy and hyperfractionated accelerated radiation therapy (C-HART; 70.6 Gy) to hyperfractionated accelerated radiation therapy alone (HART; 77.6 Gy).
Patients and methods: Three hundred eighty-four stage III (6%) and IV (94%) oropharyngeal (59.4%), hypopharyngeal (32.3%), and oral cavity (8.3%) cancer patients were randomly assigned to receive either 30 Gy (2 Gy every day) followed by 1.4 Gy bid to a total of 70.6 Gy concurrently with FU (600 mg/m(2), 120 hours continuous infusion) days 1 through 5 and MMC (10 mg/m(2)) on days 5 and 36 (C-HART) or 14 Gy (2 Gy every day) followed by 1.4 Gy bid to a total dose of 77.6 Gy (HART). The data were analyzed on an intent-to-treat basis.
Results: At 5 years, the locoregional control and overall survival rates were 49.9% and 28.6% for C-HART versus 37.4% and 23.7% for HART, respectively (P = .001 and P = .023, respectively). Progression-free and freedom from metastases rates were 29.3% and 51.9% for C-HART versus 26.6% and 54.7% for HART, respectively (P = .009 and P = .575, respectively). For C-HART, maximum acute reactions of mucositis, moist desquamation, and erythema were lower than with HART, whereas no differences in late reactions and overall rates of secondary neoplasms were observed.
Conclusion: C-HART (70.6 Gy) is superior to dose-escalated HART (77.6 Gy) with comparable or less acute reactions and equivalent late reactions, indicating an improvement of the therapeutic ratio.