Purpose: A newly designed concomitant chemoradiotherapy was undertaken to assess the feasibility and efficacy for advanced nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC).
Methods and materials: Sixty-three patients with biopsy-proven NPC were entered in this Phase II trial from March 1992 to November 1993. Most patients present with Stage IV disease (93.4%) and poorly differentiated epidermoid carcinoma or undifferentiated carcinoma were the major pathologic type. Radiotherapy was delivered using a telecobalt unit and 10 MV x-rays and by altered fractionation (72-74 Gy/45 fractions/6 weeks). Chemotherapy with cisplatin 75 mg/m2, 2 h infusion at day 1, followed by 5-FU 400 mg/m2/day, continously infused for 4 days was given concurrently during the first and fifth weeks of radiotherapy.
Results: The major toxicity was mucositis (61% belong to Grade 3, 31% to Grade 2). Weight loss, leucopenia, and skin reaction were frequently encountered. Three patients withdrew from treatment at 15, 25, and 55.5 Gy, three patients interrupted the radiotherapy for 1-4.5 weeks, and two patients refused the second cycle of concomitant chemotherapy due to toxicities. The initial tumor response showed 100% overall response rate, with 90.5% complete response. After a median follow-up time of 38 months, five patients failed at the primary and/or neck (four recurrent and one persistent), and 14 patients developed distant metastases alone. The 3-year primary disease-free, regional disease-free, distant disease-free, and overall survival rates are 89.1, 92.8, 74.3, and 73.6%, respectively. The late complication rate is acceptable so far.
Conclusions: Our data indicates that concurrent chemoradiotherapy for advanced NPC is both feasible and effective, with acceptable toxicities. Distant metastases are the major site of treatment failure. Postradiation adjuvant chemotherapy to eradicate subclinical distant metastasis should be further studied.