Purpose: In a Phase I/II trial, we investigated concurrent weekly docetaxel and concomitant boost radiation in patients with locally advanced squamous cell cancer of the head and neck (SCCHN) after induction chemotherapy.
Patients and methods: Patients presented with American Joint Committee on Cancer Stage III/IV and were treated initially with induction chemotherapy using cisplatinum/5-fluorouracil (PF), carboplatinum-5-FU, or docetaxel-PF. Patients then received docetaxel four times weekly with concomitant boost (CB) radiation (1.8 Gy once-daily X20, 1.8/1.5 Gy twice a day). Fifteen patients each received 20 mg/M2 and 25 mg/M2.
Results: Thirty-one patients were enrolled and 30 were evaluable for response and toxicity. Median follow-up was 42 months (range, 27-63 months). Primary sites were: oropharynx 19, oral cavity 2, larynx/hypopharynx 5, and unknown primary 4. Eighty-seven percent of patients had N2/N3 disease; 60% had T3/T4 disease. Twenty percent of patients had a complete response (CR) to induction chemotherapy. After chemoradiotherapy, 21 of 30 patients had a CR, 2 had progressive disease, and 7 had partial response (PR). Nineteen of 26 patients presenting with neck disease had neck dissections, and 7 of 19 were positive. Ninety-three percent of all patients were rendered disease-free after all planned therapy. Treatment failed in 8 patients, and 7 have died of disease. An additional patient died with no evidence of disease. Twenty-one patients (70%) are currently alive with no evidence of disease. No acute dose-limiting toxicity was observed at either dose level.
Conclusions: This intensive treatment regimen of concurrent docetaxel/concomitant boost radiation and surgery after induction chemotherapy in poor prognosis patients yields good local regional control and survival. Docetaxel/CB chemoradiotherapy represents an aggressive alternative regimen to platinum-based chemoradiotherapy or surgery in patients who have a poor response to induction chemotherapy.