Purpose: To prove an expected benefit of concurrent radiochemotherapy (RCT), a two-arm randomized multicentric study was performed. In a subgroup analysis the influence of pretherapeutical hemoglobin level (p-Hb) on survival under locoregional control (SLC) was tested.
Patients and methods: The study included primarily untreated Stage III/IV (International Union Against Cancer [UICC]) oropharyngeal and hypopharyngeal carcinomas. Patients were randomized to receive either hyperfractionated (hf) and accelerated (acc) RCT with two cycles 5-fluorouracil (600 mg/m(2)/day) and carboplatin (70 mg/m(2)/day) on Days 1-5 and 29-33 or hf-acc radiotherapy (RT) alone. Total RT dose in both arms was 69.9 Gy in 38 days in concomitant boost technique.
Results: After a median follow-up time of 57 months, SLC is significantly better in RCT than in RT (p = 0.01), with median SLC of 17 months and 11 months, respectively. Also overall survival (OS) shows a benefit for RCT (p = 0.016), with a median survival of 23 months for RCT and 16 months for RT. However, the benefit in SLC and OS is not seen in hypopharyngeal carcinomas. In a multivariate analysis of oropharyngeal cancer patients, p-Hb levels lower than 12.7 g/dL resulted in lower SLC compared with higher p-Hb levels up to 13.8 g/dL. P-Hb levels >13.8 g/dL did not further improve SLC.
Conclusions: Hyperfractionated-accelerated RCT is superior to hf-acc RT in oropharyngeal carcinomas. P-Hb levels >13.8 g/dL do not further improve SLC.