Toxicity profile and clinical outcomes in locally advanced head and neck cancer patients treated with induction chemotherapy prior to concurrent chemoradiation

Eric C. Ko, Eric M. Genden, Krzysztof Misiukiewicz, Peter M. Som, Lale Kostakoglu, Chien Ting Chen, Stuart Packer, Johnny Kao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


The use of induction chemotherapy prior to chemoradiation for locally advanced head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (LA-HNSCC) remains controversial. We explored whether toxicity from induction chemotherapy influenced the delivery of concurrent chemoradiation. Among 171 consecutive previously unirradiated patients with HNSCC treated with combined chemotherapy and radiation, we identified 66 patients with stage III-IVB head and neck carcinoma who were treated with induction chemotherapy prior to planned chemoradiation. The most common induction regimen was docetaxel, cisplatin and 5-FU (TPF; 80%) for 2 to 3 cycles. Mean radiation dose was 72 Gy (range, 36-75 Gy). Concurrent chemotherapy regimens included cisplatin (26%), cetuximab (5%) and 5-fluorouracil/hydroxyurea (65%)-based regimens. At a median follow-up of 27 months (range, 9-56 months), the 2-year locoregional control and distant control rates were 85 and 86%, respectively. The 2-year disease-free survival and overall survival rates were 74 and 80%, respectively. Although there were no grade 5 toxicities during induction chemotherapy, 26% of patients required hospitalization for adverse events, including 5% needing intensive care. The most common high grade adverse events were grade 4 neutropenia (21%) and neutropenic fever (17%). Six percent of patients were unable to tolerate concurrent chemotherapy. The 2-year disease-free survival was significantly higher in patients able to complete induction and concurrent chemoradiation as planned (83 vs. 27%, p<0.001). Induction chemotherapy followed by concurrent chemoradiation results in promising survival rates in our cohort of advanced head and neck carcinoma patients. Due to severe toxicities in a subset of patients, this strategy is only recommended in selected high-risk patients who are carefully followed by an experienced multidisciplinary team.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)467-474
Number of pages8
JournalOncology reports
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Adverse events
  • Concurrent chemoradiation
  • Head and neck cancer
  • Induction chemotherapy
  • Toxicity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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