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Nasopharyngeal Cancer Treatment (PDQ®): Treatment - Health Professional Information [NCI] - Stage IV Nasopharyngeal Cancer

Standard treatment options:

  1. Chemoradiation therapy followed by adjuvant chemotherapy, as evidenced in INT-0099, for example.[1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12,13,14]
  2. Altered fractionation including hyperfractionated radiation therapy.[15,16]
  3. Neck dissection should be reserved for persistent or recurrent nodes.[17]
  4. Chemotherapy for patients with stage IVC disease.[18]

Treatment options under clinical evaluation:

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  1. Neoadjuvant chemotherapy. Neoadjuvant chemotherapy has been used to shrink tumors, which renders them more definitively treatable with radiation therapy. Chemotherapy is given prior to the other modalities, hence the designation neoadjuvant to distinguish it from standard adjuvant therapy, which is given after or during definitive therapy with radiation or after surgery. Many drug combinations have been used in neoadjuvant chemotherapy.

    Clinical trials for advanced tumors to evaluate the use of chemotherapy before radiation therapy, concomitant with radiation therapy, or as adjuvant therapy after radiation therapy should be considered.[19,20,21,22]

    A phase II, randomized study of 65 patients with stage III and IV nasopharyngeal carcinoma were randomly assigned to neoadjuvant docetaxel (75 mg/m2) and cisplatin (75 mg/m2) every 3 weeks for two cycles followed by cisplatin (40 mg/m2) every week versus chemoradiation alone. Rates of grade 3 or 4 neutropenia were 97% during the neoadjuvant arm with no difference in toxicities between the two groups during the chemoradiation portion of treatment. The 3-year progression-free survival for neoadjuvant docetaxel versus the control arm was 88.2% and 59.5% (hazard ratio [HR], 0.49; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.20–1.19; P = .12). The 3-year overall survival for neoadjuvant docetaxel versus the control arm was 94.1% and 67.7% (HR, 0.24; 95% CI, 0.078–0.73; P = .012).[23][Level of evidence: 1iiDiii] These data have to be confirmed in a definitive phase III trial.

    Three randomized, prospective trials compared combination chemotherapy (i.e., cisplatin, epirubicin, and bleomycin or cisplatin plus fluorouracil [5-FU] infusion) plus radiation therapy to radiation therapy alone.[1][Level of evidence: 1iiA];[24,25][Level of evidence: 1iiDii] Although disease-free survival (DFS) was improved in the chemotherapy group for both groups, improvement in overall survival (OS) was reported only from the Intergroup trial in which chemotherapy with cisplatin was ever concurrently given.[1]

  2. Concurrent radiation therapy with chemotherapy. A study of 1,355 patients compared concurrent radiation therapy with carboplatin or cisplatin administered with 96-hour infusion of 5-FU monthly for three cycles.[26] The 3-year DFS rate was 63.4% for patients in the cisplatin arm and 60.9% for patients in the carboplatin arm (P = .961; HR, 0.70; 95% CI, 0.50–0.98). OS rates were 77% for patients in the cisplatin arm and 79% for patients in the carboplatin arm (P = .988; HR, 0.83; 95% CI, 0.63–1.010).[26][Level of evidence: 1iiA] Toxicity to kidneys and red blood cell count was greater in patients in the cisplatin group.
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WebMD Public Information from the National Cancer Institute

Last Updated: February 25, 2014
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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