Background and purposes: We performed a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials (RCTs) to determine the overall risk of treatment-related death associated with additional cisplatin-based chemotherapy in patients with nasopharyngeal carcinoma treated with standard radiotherapy.
Material and methods: Eligible studies included RCTs in which cisplatin-based chemotherapy in combination with radiotherapy was compared with radiotherapy alone. Statistical analyses were conducted to calculate the summary incidence rates, relative risks (RRs), and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) using fixed- or random-effects models based on the heterogeneity of included studies.
Results: A total of 2829 patients from 13 RCTs were included in this study. The overall incidence for treatment-related death in chemoradiotherapy and radiotherapy treated patients was 1.7% and 0.8%. Compared to radiotherapy alone, radiotherapy plus cisplatin-based chemotherapy significantly increased the risk of treatment-related mortality. On subgroup analyses, no difference was found in treatment-related mortality between different timings of chemotherapy and chemotherapeutic agents. Adding cisplatin-based chemotherapy was associated with higher incidences of severe acute toxicity.
Conclusions: Cisplatin-based chemotherapy plus radiotherapy increased the risk of treatment-related death and severe acute toxicity, compared with radiotherapy alone. Better management of treatment toxicity might improve the therapeutic gain in patients with nasopharyngeal carcinoma.
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