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Treatment regimen offers greater survival advantage for recurrent head and neck cancers

DENVER--Few treatment options exist for patients with head and neck cancers who develop a second tumor or whose disease recurs in an area that has previously received radiation. Data from an international study reveal a possible new combination treatment regimen that offers a significant survival advantage for many of these patients. The details of the study were presented today at the 47th Annual Meeting of the American Society for Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology in Denver, Colo.

"Not only did this clinical trial show efficacy with our regimen, but it appears to significantly increase the probability of survival when compared to the current standard treatment," said Eric Horwitz, M.D., co-principal investigator of the Radiation Therapy Oncology Group study (RTOG 99-11) and clinical director in the radiation oncology department at Fox Chase Cancer Center.

The study was conducted with patients from the U.S. and Canada. Participants had recurrent squamous-cell head and neck cancer or a second primary tumor that developed in the area where they had previously been irradiated. Investigators enrolled 105 patients between March 2000 and June 2003 and 99 patients were eligible for analysis. Of those, 23 percent had second primary tumors in the site previously treated with radiation while the remainder had cancers that recurred. The predominant primary sites were the oropharynx (40 percent) and oral cavity (27 percent). The oropharynx is the middle portion of the tube connecting the oral and nasal cavities to the voice box and esophagus.

Patients were treated with split course hyperfractionated radiation therapy (twice a day for five days every two weeks for four cycles). They also received chemotherapy with cisplatin (daily every two weeks for four cycles) and paclitaxel (daily every two weeks for four cycles).

The median follow-up for surviving patients was 23.6 months. Median survival was 12.1 months.

For patients treated with t
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Contact: Karen C. Mallet
karen.mallet@fccc.edu
215-728-2700
Fox Chase Cancer Center
18-Oct-2005


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