Radiochemotherapy including cisplatin alone versus cisplatin + 5-fluorouracil for locally advanced unresectable stage IV squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck

Silke Tribius, Stefanie Kronemann, Yasemin Kilic, Ursula Schroeder, Samer Hakim, Steven E. Schild, Dirk Rades

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

40 Scopus citations


Background and Purpose:The optimal radiochemotherapy regimen for advanced head-and-neck cancer is still debated. This nonrandomized study compares two cisplatin-based radiochemotherapy regimens in 128 patients with locally advanced unresectable stage IV squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck (SCCHN). Patients and Methods:Concurrent chemotherapy consisted of either two courses cisplatin (20 mg/m2/d1-5 + 29-33; n = 54) or two courses cisplatin (20 mg/m2/d1-5 + 29-33) + 5-fluorouracil (5-FU; 600 mg/m 2/d1-5 + 29-33; n = 74). Results:At least one grade 3 toxicity occurred in 25 of 54 patients (46%) receiving cisplatin alone and in 52 of 74 patients (70%) receiving cisplatin + 5-FU. The latter regimen was particularly associated with increased rates of mucositis (p = 0.027) and acute skin toxicity (p = 0.001). Seven of 54 (13%) and 20 of 74 patients (27%) received only one chemotherapy course due to treatment-related acute toxicity. Late toxicity in terms of xerostomia, neck fibrosis, skin toxicity, and lymphedema was not significantly different. The 2-year locoregional control rates were 67% after cisplatin alone and 52% after cisplatin + 5-FU (p = 0.35). The metastases-free survival rates were 79% and 69%, respectively (p = 0.65), and the overall survival rates 70% and 51%, respectively (p = 0.10). On multivariate analysis, outcome was significantly associated with performance status, T-category, N-category, hemoglobin level prior to radiotherapy, and radiotherapy break > 1 week. Conclusion:Two courses of fractionated cisplatin (20 mg/m 2/day) alone appear preferable, as this regimen resulted in similar outcome and late toxicity as two courses of cisplatin + 5-FU, but in significantly less acute toxicity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)675-681
Number of pages7
JournalStrahlentherapie und Onkologie
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 1 2009



  • Locally advanced head-and-neck cancer
  • Radiochemotherapy
  • Toxicity
  • Treatment outcome

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Oncology

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