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      A meta-analysis of hyperfractionated and accelerated radiotherapy and combined chemotherapy and radiotherapy regimens in unresected locally advanced squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck

      , 1 , 2 , 3 , 2 , 4

      BMC Cancer

      BioMed Central

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          Abstract

          Background

          Former meta-analyses have shown a survival benefit for the addition of chemotherapy (CHX) to radiotherapy (RT) and to some extent also for the use of hyperfractionated radiation therapy (HFRT) and accelerated radiation therapy (AFRT) in locally advanced squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) of the head and neck. However, the publication of new studies and the fact that many older studies that were included in these former meta-analyses used obsolete radiation doses, CHX schedules or study designs prompted us to carry out a new analysis using strict inclusion criteria.

          Methods

          Randomised trials testing curatively intended RT (≥60 Gy in >4 weeks/>50 Gy in <4 weeks) on SCC of the oral cavity, oropharynx, hypopharynx, and larynx published as full paper or in abstract form between 1975 and 2003 were eligible. Trials comparing RT alone with concurrent or alternating chemoradiation (5-fluorouracil (5-FU), cisplatin, carboplatin, mitomycin C) were analyzed according to the employed radiation schedule and the used CHX regimen. Studies comparing conventionally fractionated radiotherapy (CFRT) with either HFRT or AFRT without CHX were separately examined. End point of the meta-analysis was overall survival.

          Results

          Thirty-two trials with a total of 10 225 patients were included into the meta-analysis. An overall survival benefit of 12.0 months was observed for the addition of simultaneous CHX to either CFRT or HFRT/AFRT (p < 0.001). Separate analyses by cytostatic drug indicate a prolongation of survival of 24.0 months, 16.8 months, 6.7 months, and 4.0 months, respectively, for the simultaneous administration of 5-FU, cisplatin-based, carboplatin-based, and mitomycin C-based CHX to RT (each p < 0.01). Whereas no significant gain in overall survival was observed for AFRT in comparison to CFRT, a substantial prolongation of median survival (14.2 months, p < 0.001) was seen for HFRT compared to CFRT (both without CHX).

          Conclusion

          RT combined with simultaneous 5-FU, cisplatin, carboplatin, and mitomycin C as single drug or combinations of 5-FU with one of the other drugs results in a large survival advantage irrespective the employed radiation schedule. If radiation therapy is used as single modality, hyperfractionation leads to a significant improvement of overall survival. Accelerated radiation therapy alone, especially when given as split course radiation schedule or extremely accelerated treatments with decreased total dose, does not increase overall survival.

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          Most cited references 46

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          An intergroup phase III comparison of standard radiation therapy and two schedules of concurrent chemoradiotherapy in patients with unresectable squamous cell head and neck cancer.

          The Head and Neck Intergroup conducted a phase III randomized trial to test the benefit of adding chemotherapy to radiation in patients with unresectable squamous cell head and neck cancer. Eligible patients were randomly assigned between arm A (the control), single daily fractionated radiation (70 Gy at 2 Gy/d); arm B, identical radiation therapy with concurrent bolus cisplatin, given on days 1, 22, and 43; and arm C, a split course of single daily fractionated radiation and three cycles of concurrent infusional fluorouracil and bolus cisplatin chemotherapy, 30 Gy given with the first cycle and 30 to 40 Gy given with the third cycle. Surgical resection was encouraged if possible after the second chemotherapy cycle on arm C and, if necessary, as salvage therapy on all three treatment arms. Survival data were compared between each experimental arm and the control arm using a one-sided log-rank test. Between 1992 and 1999, 295 patients were entered on this trial. This did not meet the accrual goal of 362 patients and resulted in premature study closure. Grade 3 or worse toxicity occurred in 52% of patients enrolled in arm A, compared with 89% enrolled in arm B (P <.0001) and 77% enrolled in arm C (P <.001). With a median follow-up of 41 months, the 3-year projected overall survival for patients enrolled in arm A is 23%, compared with 37% for arm B (P =.014) and 27% for arm C (P = not significant). The addition of concurrent high-dose, single-agent cisplatin to conventional single daily fractionated radiation significantly improves survival, although it also increases toxicity. The loss of efficacy resulting from split-course radiation was not offset by either multiagent chemotherapy or the possibility of midcourse surgery.
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            Chemotherapy added to locoregional treatment for head and neck squamous-cell carcinoma: three meta-analyses of updated individual data. MACH-NC Collaborative Group. Meta-Analysis of Chemotherapy on Head and Neck Cancer.

            Despite more than 70 randomised trials, the effect of chemotherapy on non-metastatic head and neck squamous-cell carcinoma remains uncertain. We did three meta-analyses of the impact of survival on chemotherapy added to locoregional treatment. We updated data on all patients in randomised trials between 1965 and 1993. We included patients with carcinoma of the oropharynx, oral cavity, larynx, or hypopharynx. The main meta-analysis of 63 trials (10,741 patients) of locoregional treatment with or without chemotherapy yielded a pooled hazard ratio of death of 0.90 (95% CI 0.85-0.94, p<0.0001), corresponding to an absolute survival benefit of 4% at 2 and 5 years in favour of chemotherapy. There was no significant benefit associated with adjuvant or neoadjuvant chemotherapy. Chemotherapy given concomitantly to radiotherapy gave significant benefits, but heterogeneity of the results prohibits firm conclusions. Meta-analysis of six trials (861 patients) comparing neoadjuvant chemotherapy plus radiotherapy with concomitant or alternating radiochemotherapy yielded a hazard ratio of 0.91 (0.79-1.06) in favour of concomitant or alternating radiochemotherapy. Three larynx-preservation trials (602 patients) compared radical surgery plus radiotherapy with neoadjuvant chemotherapy plus radiotherapy in responders or radical surgery and radiotherapy in non-responders. The hazard ratio of death in the chemotherapy arm as compared with the control arm was 1.19 (0.97-1.46). Because the main meta-analysis showed only a small significant survival benefit in favour of chemotherapy, the routine use of chemotherapy is debatable. For larynx preservation, the non-significant negative effect of chemotherapy in the organ-preservation strategy indicates that this procedure must remain investigational.
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              • Article: not found

              Randomized trial of radiation therapy versus concomitant chemotherapy and radiation therapy for advanced-stage oropharynx carcinoma.

               E Bardet,  G Calais,  C Sire (1999)
              We designed a randomized clinical trial to test whether the addition of three cycles of chemotherapy during standard radiation therapy would improve disease-free survival in patients with stages III and IV (i.e., advanced oropharynx carcinoma). A total of 226 patients have been entered in a phase III multicenter, randomized trial comparing radiotherapy alone (arm A) with radiotherapy with concomitant chemotherapy (arm B). Radiotherapy was identical in the two arms, delivering, with conventional fractionation, 70 Gy in 35 fractions. In arm B, patients received during the period of radiotherapy three cycles of a 4-day regimen containing carboplatin (70 mg/m(2) per day) and 5-fluorouracil (600 mg/m(2) per day) by continuous infusion. The two arms were equally balanced with regard to age, sex, stage, performance status, histology, and primary tumor site. Radiotherapy compliance was similar in the two arms with respect to total dose, treatment duration, and treatment interruption. The rate of grades 3 and 4 mucositis was statistically significantly higher in arm B (71%; 95% confidence interval [CI] = 54%-85%) than in arm A (39%; 95% CI = 29%-56%). Skin toxicity was not different between the two arms. Hematologic toxicity was higher in arm B as measured by neutrophil count and hemoglobin level. Three-year overall actuarial survival and disease-free survival rates were, respectively, 51% (95% CI = 39%-68%) versus 31% (95% CI = 18%-49%) and 42% (95% CI = 30%-57%) versus 20% (95% CI = 10%-33%) for patients treated with combined modality versus radiation therapy alone (P =.02 and.04, respectively). The locoregional control rate was improved in arm B (66%; 95% CI = 51%-78%) versus arm A (42%; 95% CI = 31%-56%). The statistically significant improvement in overall survival that was obtained supports the use of concomitant chemotherapy as an adjunct to radiotherapy in the management of carcinoma of the oropharynx.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                BMC Cancer
                BMC Cancer
                BioMed Central (London )
                1471-2407
                2006
                31 January 2006
                : 6
                : 28
                Affiliations
                [1 ]Department of Radiation Oncology, University Hospital Düsseldorf, Germany
                [2 ]Department of Radiation Oncology, University Hospital Tübingen, Germany
                [3 ]Department of Radiation Oncology, Charité, Berlin, Germany
                [4 ]Department of Medical Biometry, University Hospital Tübingen, Germany
                Article
                1471-2407-6-28
                10.1186/1471-2407-6-28
                1379652
                16448551
                Copyright © 2006 Budach et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.

                This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

                Categories
                Research Article

                Oncology & Radiotherapy

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