Disease control and functional outcome in three modern combined organ preserving regimens for locally advanced squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck (SCCHN)
PURPOSE To demonstrate the efficacy of radiochemotherapy (RCT) as the first choice of treatment for advanced unresectable head-and-neck cancer. To prove an expected benefit of simultaneously given chemotherapy, a two-arm randomized study with hyperfractionated accelerated radiochemotherapy (HF-ACC-RCT) vs. hyperfractionated accelerated radiotherapy (HF-ACC-RT) was initiated. The primary endpoint was 1-year survival with local control (SLC). METHODS AND MATERIALS Patients with Stage III and IV (UICC) unresectable oro- and hypopharyngeal carcinomas were randomized for HF-ACC-RCT with 2 cycles of 5-FU (600 mg/m(2)/day)/carboplatinum (70 mg/m(2)) on days 1--5 and 29--33 (arm A) or HF-ACC-RT alone (arm B). In both arms, there was a second randomization for testing the effect of prophylactically given G-CSF (263 microg, days 15--19) on mucosal toxicity. Total RT dose in both arms was 69.9 Gy in 38 days, with a concomitant boost regimen (weeks 1--3: 1.8 Gy/day, weeks 4 and 5: b.i.d. RT with 1.8 Gy/1.5 Gy). Between July 1995 and May 1999, 263 patients were randomized (median age 56 years; 96% Stage IV tumors, 4% Stage III tumors). RESULTS This analysis is based on 240 patients: 113 patients with RCT and 127 patients with RT, qualified for protocol and starting treatment. There were 178 oropharyngeal and 62 hypopharyngeal carcinomas. Treatment was tolerable in both arms, with a higher mucosal toxicity after RCT. Restaging showed comparable nonsignificant different CR + PR rates of 92.4% after RCT and 87.9% after RT (p = 0.29). After a median observed time of 22.3 months, l- and 2-year local-regional control (LRC) rates were 69% and 51% after RCT and 58% and 45% after RT (p = 0.14). There was a significantly better 1-year SLC after RCT (58%) compared with RT (44%, p = 0.05). Patients with oropharyngeal carcinomas showed significantly better SLC after RCT (60%) vs. RT (40%, p = 0.01); the smaller group of hypopharyngeal carcinomas had no statistical benefit of RCT (p = 0.84). For both tumor locations, prophylactically given G-CSF was a poor prognostic factor (Cox regression), and resulted in reduced LRC (log-rank test: +/- G-CSF, p = 0.0072). CONCLUSION With accelerated radiotherapy, the efficiency of simultaneously given chemotherapy may be not as high as expected when compared to standard fractionated RT. Oropharyngeal carcinomas showed better LRC after HF-ACC-RCT vs. HF-ACC-RT; hypopharyngeal carcinomas did not. Prophylactic G-CSF resulted in an unexpected reduced local control and should be given in radiotherapy regimen only with strong hematologic indication.