Low-dose weekly platinum-based chemoradiation for advanced head and neck cancer

Laryngoscope. 2010 Feb;120(2):236-42. doi: 10.1002/lary.20536.


Objectives/hypothesis: The optimal concurrent chemoradiotherapy regimen for definitive treatment of locoregionally advanced head and neck cancer remains to be determined. The present investigation reports toxicities, disease control, patterns of failure, and survival outcomes in a large mature cohort of patients treated with low-dose weekly platinum-based concurrent chemoradiotherapy.

Study design: Retrospective single-institution series.

Methods: Toxicity and outcome data for locoregionally advanced head and neck cancer patients treated with low-dose weekly platinum-based chemotherapy concurrent with standard fractionation radiotherapy were retrospectively collected and analyzed from a clinical database. Survival analysis methods, including Kaplan-Meier estimation and competing risks analysis, were used to assess locoregional disease control, freedom from failure, and overall survival.

Results: Ninety-six patients were eligible for the present analysis. Nearly all patients had American Joint Committee on Cancer clinical stage III to IVB disease (99%). Severe acute toxicities included grade 3 mucositis (61%), grade 3/4 nausea (27%/1%), and grade 3 neutropenia (8%). Thirty-seven patients (38%) required hospitalization for a median of 7 days (range, 1-121). Ninety-two percent of patients completed the fully prescribed course of radiotherapy, and 87% completed >or=6 cycles of chemotherapy. At a median survivor follow-up of 40 months (range, 8-68), 47% of patients were without evidence of disease recurrence. The estimated 4-year freedom from failure and overall survival were 48% and 58%, respectively. Initial site(s) of disease failure were locoregional for 22 patients, locoregional and distant (five patients), and distant only (14 patients).

Conclusions: Weekly low-dose platinum-based chemotherapy with full-dose daily radiotherapy is a tolerable alternative regimen for locoregionally advanced head and neck cancers, with comparable efficacy and patterns of failure to alternative regimens.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols / administration & dosage*
  • Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols / adverse effects
  • Cisplatin / administration & dosage
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Drug Administration Schedule
  • Female
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / pathology
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / radiotherapy
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Paclitaxel / administration & dosage
  • Radiation Injuries
  • Survival Rate


  • Paclitaxel
  • Cisplatin