Randomized trial of radiotherapy plus concurrent-adjuvant chemotherapy vs radiotherapy alone for regionally advanced nasopharyngeal carcinoma.

J Natl Cancer Inst 2010 Aug 15;102(15):1188-98. Epub 2010 Jul 15.

Department of Clinical Oncology, Pamela Youde Nethersole Eastern Hospital, Chai Wan, Hong Kong, China.

Background: Current practice of adding concurrent-adjuvant chemotherapy to radiotherapy (CRT) for treating advanced nasopharyngeal carcinoma is based on the Intergroup-0099 Study published in 1998. However, the outcome for the radiotherapy-alone (RT) group in that trial was substantially poorer than those in other trials, and there were no data on late toxicities. Verification of the long-term therapeutic index of this regimen is needed.

Methods: Patients with nonkeratinizing nasopharyngeal carcinoma staged T1-4N2-3M0 were randomly assigned to RT (176 patients) or to CRT (172 patients) using cisplatin (100 mg/m(2)) every 3 weeks for three cycles in concurrence with radiotherapy, followed by cisplatin (80 mg/m(2)) plus fluorouracil (1000 mg per m(2) per day for 4 days) every 4 weeks for three cycles. Primary endpoints included overall failure-free rate (FFR) (the time to first failure at any site) and progression-free survival. Secondary endpoints included overall survival, locoregional FFR, distant FFR, and acute and late toxicity rates. All statistical tests were two-sided.

Results: The two treatment groups were well balanced in all patient characteristics, tumor factors, and radiotherapy parameters. Adding chemotherapy statistically significantly improved the 5-year FFR (CRT vs RT: 67% vs 55%; P = .014) and 5-year progression-free survival (CRT vs RT: 62% vs 53%; P = .035). Cumulative incidence of acute toxicity increased with chemotherapy by 30% (CRT vs RT: 83% vs 53%; P < .001), but the 5-year late toxicity rate did not increase statistically significantly (CRT vs RT: 30% vs 24%; P = .30). Deaths because of disease progression were reduced statistically significantly by 14% (CRT vs RT: 38% vs 24%; P = .008), but 5-year overall survival was similar (CRT vs RT: 68% vs 64%; P = .22; hazard ratio of CRT = 0.81, 95% confidence interval = 0.58 to 1.13) because deaths due to toxicity or incidental causes increased by 7% (CRT vs RT: 1.7% vs 0, and 8.1% vs 3.4%, respectively; P = .015).

Conclusions: Adding concurrent-adjuvant chemotherapy statistically significantly reduced failure and cancer-specific deaths when compared with radiotherapy alone. Although there was no statistically significant increase in major late toxicity, increase in noncancer deaths narrowed the resultant gain in overall survival.

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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/jnci/djq258DOI Listing
August 2010
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