A phase I/II study of neoadjuvant chemotherapy followed by radiation with boost chemotherapy for advanced T-stage nasopharyngeal carcinoma.

Research paper by Faye M FM Johnson, Adam S AS Garden, J Lynn JL Palmer, Dong M DM Shin, William W Morrison, Vassiliki V Papadimitrakopoulou, Fadlo F Khuri, Gary G Clayman, Helmuth H Goepfert, K Kian KK Ang, Waun K WK Hong, Bonnie S BS Glisson

Indexed on: 04 Oct '05Published on: 04 Oct '05Published in: International Journal of Radiation Oncology • Biology • Physics


Local recurrence is the most common site of failure for locally advanced nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC) treated with neoadjuvant cisplatin/5-fluorouracil (PF) and definitive radiation at our center. Based on this, we studied the addition of chemotherapy during the boost phase of radiation after neoadjuvant PF for advanced T-stage (T3-T4) NPC. This strategy was based on theoretical radiosensitization with chemotherapy during accelerated repopulation of the tumor with relatively radioresistant clonogens.Three cycles of neoadjuvant PF was followed by conventionally fractionated radiation with additional PF during the boost portion of the radiation course. An initial Phase I study was done to establish the maximum tolerated dose of concurrent PF.Forty-four patients were enrolled. Six patients in Phase I defined the MTD for concurrent PF as: cisplatin 10 mg/m2/day and PF 320 mg/m2/day, on Days 1-5 during Weeks 6 and 7 of radiation therapy based on dose-limiting toxicities of mucositis, neutropenia, and thrombocytopenia. Forty-one patients were treated with concurrent therapy per protocol: complete, partial, and minor responses were seen in 23, 16, and 2 patients, respectively. Progression-free and overall survival rates at 5 years were 55% (95% CI, 41-75%) and 66% (95% CI, 52-85%), respectively. Seven of 11 tumor-related deaths were due to local recurrence. Nine of 10 patients with local recurrence had T4-stage disease at presentation. Local control of T4 disease was achieved in 74% of patients overall, and in 25% (1/4) with World Health Organization (WHO) type 1, 76% (16/21) with WHO type 2, and 90% (9/10) with WHO type 3 histology. Common toxicities included mucositis, dermatitis, fatigue, vomiting, and weight loss.This regimen was feasible and associated with promising overall survival. Local recurrence remains the major reason for treatment failure in advanced T-stage NPC, especially WHO types 1 and 2. Other strategies to improve local control in these patients should be investigated.