PURPOSE: To evaluate the feasibility and efficacy of moderately accelerated intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) along with weekly cisplatin, after induction chemotherapy, in patients with locally advanced unresectable head and neck cancer (HNC).
METHODS AND MATERIALS: Patients with Stage III or IV locally advanced HNC, without progressive disease after three courses of induction chemotherapy, received concurrent chemo-IMRT (weekly cisplatin 30 mg/m(2) plus simultaneous integrated boost IMRT). A total of 67.5 Gy in 30 fractions were delivered to primary tumor and involved nodes, 60 Gy in 30 fractions to high-risk nodal areas, and 55.5 Gy in 30 fractions to low-risk nodal areas.
RESULTS: In all, 36 patients (median age, 56 years) with International Union Against Cancer (UICC) Stage III (n = 5) and IV (n = 31) were included. Of the 36 patients, 17 had received CF (cisplatin and 5-fluorouracil (CF) and 19 had received docetaxel cisplatin and 5-fluorouracil (DCF). During concurrent chemoradiation, 11 of 36 patients (30.5%) experienced Grade III mucositis (CF, 47%; DCF, 15%; p < 0.04). Grade III pharyngeal-esophageal toxicity was observed in 5 of 19 patients (26.3%; CF, 0.0%; DCF, 26.3%; p = 0.02). Two patients died of complications (5.5%). After chemoradiation, the complete response rate was 63.8%. Two-year local control was 88.7%. Two-year progression free survival and overall survival were 74.5% and 60.9%, respectively.
CONCLUSIONS: In our experience, a moderately accelerated chemo-IMRT was feasible after induction chemotherapy. However, a noteworthy early death rate of 5.5% was observed. Intensive supportive care strategies should be defined to better manage radiation-induced toxic effects. Longer follow-up is required to determine the incidence of late radiation toxicities and tumor control rates.