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Chemo-radiation therapy treatment gives head-and-neck cancer a 1-2 punch

ORLANDO, Fla. (May 14)-Researchers studying an innovative treatment for advanced head-and-neck cancer, combining chemotherapy and radiation, report that about half of patients were still alive four years after treatment.

Radiation Therapy Oncology Group physicians announced results from their phase II study at the American Society of Clinical Oncology annual meeting on May 14.

The treatment, called RADPLAT, combines radiation and a platinum-based chemotherapy drug called cisplatin. What makes the treatment unique is that instead of providing chemotherapy intravenously, oncologists inject cisplatin through tiny catheters directly into the arteries that feed the tumor, sending the drug exactly where it is needed.

"Our results were extremely encouraging," says study presenter Parvesh Kumar, M.D., professor and chair of radiation oncology at the Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California and USC/Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center. "The benefits seen in patients with advanced, inoperable disease were comparable to benefits seen with the same therapy in patients with earlier-stage disease.

"Based on these favorable results, we should certainly consider a bigger phase III clinical trial for this technique in a wider, broader group of patients."

Physicians at 11 university medical centers recruited 67 patients for the study, and performed the treatment in 61 patients. Patients had stage IV-T4 disease: Tumors were large and inoperable. Squamous cell carcinoma is difficult to treat successfully in this advanced stage. Tumor sites ranged from the mouth to the larynx.

The oncologists inserted catheters into the blood vessels feeding the tumors and injected cisplatin over four weekly sessions. At the same time, they introduced a neutralizing agent into the rest of the body. That agent combines with cisplatin to produce a harmless substance that is flushed away. As a result, the cisplatin is less likely to harm
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Contact: Jon Weiner
jon.weiner@usc.edu
323-442-2823
University of Southern California
16-May-2005


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