Phase II trial of induction chemotherapy followed by surgery for squamous cell carcinoma of the oral tongue in young adults

Head Neck. 2012 Sep;34(9):1255-62. doi: 10.1002/hed.21906. Epub 2011 Oct 19.


Background: We conducted a phase II clinical trial of induction chemotherapy followed by surgery ± radiotherapy for squamous cell carcinoma of the oral tongue (SCCOT) in young adults.

Methods: From September 2001 to October 2004, 23 patients aged 18 to 49 years with clinical T2-3 N0-2 M0 SCCOT and no prior radiotherapy, chemotherapy, or neck dissection underwent induction chemotherapy (paclitaxel, ifosfamide, and carboplatin) followed by glossectomy and neck dissection ± radiotherapy and chemotherapy.

Results: On final surgical pathology, 9 patients (39%) had a complete/major (2 complete) histologic response at the primary tumor site; 8 patients (35%) had no response or progression. Similarly, 9 patients (39%) had a complete response in the neck or remained node negative; 6 patients (26%) had an increase in nodal category. No treatment-associated deaths occurred, and toxicity was modest. At a median follow-up from the end of treatment of 52 months (minimum, 23 months), 10 patients (43%) developed recurrence, and all 10 died of cancer. Crude recurrence/cancer death rates were associated with ≤ a partial response at the tongue (p = .029), poor histologic differentiation (p = .012), and multiple adverse features on final surgical pathology (p = .040).

Conclusion: Response rates and overall survival with this induction chemotherapy regimen were limited, but complete/major response at the tongue was associated with excellent prognosis. Additionally, improved patient selection and predictive tumor biomarkers will be needed for induction chemotherapy to be routinely incorporated into the treatment of oral tongue cancer in young adults.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial, Phase II
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols / adverse effects
  • Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols / therapeutic use*
  • Carboplatin / administration & dosage
  • Carboplatin / adverse effects
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Glossectomy
  • Humans
  • Ifosfamide / administration & dosage
  • Ifosfamide / adverse effects
  • Induction Chemotherapy
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neck Dissection
  • Neoplasms, Squamous Cell / drug therapy*
  • Neoplasms, Squamous Cell / radiotherapy
  • Neoplasms, Squamous Cell / surgery
  • Paclitaxel / administration & dosage
  • Paclitaxel / adverse effects
  • Prognosis
  • Survival Analysis
  • Tongue Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Tongue Neoplasms / radiotherapy
  • Tongue Neoplasms / surgery
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Young Adult


  • Carboplatin
  • Paclitaxel
  • Ifosfamide