Purpose: We investigated the efficacy and safety of weekly low-dose docetaxel and cisplatin therapy concurrent with conventionally fractionated radiation in patients with technically resectable stage III-IV squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck.
Methods and materials: Between March 2004 and October 2011, we enrolled 117 patients, of whom 116 were analyzable (43 had oropharyngeal cancer, 54 had hypopharyngeal cancer, and 19 had laryngeal cancer), and 85 (73%) had stage IV disease. Radiation consisted of 66 Gy in 33 fractions. Docetaxel, 10 mg/m(2), followed by cisplatin, 20 mg/m(2), administered on the same day were given once a week for 6 cycles. The primary endpoint was overall complete response (CR) rate after chemoradiation therapy. Human papillomavirus (HPV) DNA in oropharyngeal cancer was examined by PCR.
Results: Of 116 patients, 82 (71%) completed treatment per protocol; 102 (88%) received the full radiation therapy dose; and 90 (78%) and 12 (10%) patients received 6 and 5 chemotherapy cycles, respectively. Overall CR rate was 71%. After median follow-up of 50.9 months (range: 15.6-113.9 months for surviving patients), 2-year and 4-year overall survival rates were 82% and 68%, respectively. Cumulative 2-year and 4-year local failure rates were 27% and 28%, respectively, whereas distant metastasis rates were 15% and 22%, respectively. HPV status in oropharyngeal cancer was not associated with treatment efficacy. Acute toxicity included grade 3 and 4 in-field mucositis in 73% and 5% of patients, respectively, whereas myelosuppression and renal injury were minimal. No patients died of toxicity. Feeding tube dependence in 8% and tracheostomy in 1% of patients were evident at 2 years postchemoradiation therapy in patients who survived without local treatment failure.
Conclusions: Local control and survival with this regimen were satisfactory. Although acute toxicity, such as mucositis, was common, late toxicity, such as laryngoesophageal dysfunction, was minimal. Therapy using weekly low-dose docetaxel and cisplatin concurrent with radiation warrants further evaluation.
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