Preoperative paclitaxel, carboplatin, and radiation therapy in advanced head and neck cancer (stage III and IV).


Journal Article

Preoperative chemotherapy and chemoradiation protocols are generally associated with high clinical response rates but limited pathologic responses for large primary tumors. We have initiated a prospective phase II study of weekly paclitaxel and carboplatin plus concurrent, fractionated external-beam radiation, followed by organ-preserving or function-restorative surgery (when applicable to maximize locoregional tumor control). Operable patients staged by triple endoscopy received a percutaneous gastrostomy and vigorous dental and nutritional support during therapy. Paclitaxel 60 mg/m2 and carboplatin at an area under the concentration-time curve of 1 were administered weekly with radiation therapy 45 Gy, with repeat biopsy of the primary site at 5 weeks. Patients with a positive biopsy had definitive surgery within 4 to 5 weeks. Patients with a negative biopsy received 3 additional weeks of radiation therapy, to a total dose of 72 Gy plus paclitaxel and carboplatin. Forty-three patients were enrolled, including 33 men and 10 women ranging in age from 37 to 81 years. Fourteen patients had stage III disease, 19 patients had stage IVA disease, and 10 patients had stage IVB disease. Sites of disease included the floor of the mouth (n = 8), tongue (n = 8), oropharynx (n = 5), hypopharynx (n = 4), larynx (n = 12), palate-tonsil (n = 2), unknown primary (n = 3), and nasal cavity (n = 1). Of 38 patients evaluable for primary response (two patients had unknown primary tumor, two patients failed to complete the chemoradiation protocol, and one patient was evaluable for toxicity only), 18 patients had a complete clinical response and 20 patients had a partial response; the overall clinical response rate was 100%. A pathologic clinical response at the primary site occurred in 25 of these 38 patients (66%), who subsequently received completion radiation (67 to 72 Gy). After induction chemoradiation, 36 patients with N1-N3 nodes had neck dissection; seven had positive nodes (19%). Fourteen patients had residual cancer at the primary site at the time of the repeat biopsy. Sites of the lesions were the floor of the mouth/mandible (n = 4), nasal cavity/maxilla (n = 2), base of tongue (n = 2), and larynx (n = 6). All were resected with function-preserving reconstruction (two patients required total laryngectomy and one patient refused surgery). At a median follow-up of more than 16 months, progression-free and overall survival rates were 64% and 68%, respectively. Preoperative paclitaxel, carboplatin, and radiation was associated with a high clinical response rate at the primary site and a high level of organ preservation or functional restoration, if ablation was performed.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Wanebo, HJ; Chougule, P; Ready, N; Koness, RJ; Akerley, W; McRae, R; Nigri, P; Leone, L; Webber, B; Safran, H

Published Date

  • April 1999

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 9 / 2 Suppl 1

Start / End Page

  • 77 - 84

PubMed ID

  • 10210544

Pubmed Central ID

  • 10210544

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 1053-4296


  • eng

Conference Location

  • United States