Chemoradiation in advanced head and neck cancers

Advanced cancer in the head and neck is traditionally treated with surgery followed by radiotherapy.

Surgery usually entails removal of areas like the voice box, or part of the throat, leading to speaking and swallowing problems. Because of these side effects, many patients refuse surgery.

In a study to be presented at the 2007 AAO-HNSF Annual Meeting & OTO EXPO, a novel treatment for chemoradiation, using the generic drug Paclitaxel in conjunction with radiotherapy, has shown superior results to other anticancer drugs used in chemoradiation with fewer side effects. The study comprised 94 previously untreated patients with cancer of the head and neck (stages 3 and 4) who were treated with concomitant chemoradiation over a three-year period (2003-2005) in a medical college hospital. The patients were divided into two groups, with one group receiving concomitant chemotherapy (CT) with Paclitaxel, while the other group received concomitant chemotherapy with Cisplatin. In each group, six cycles of chemotherapy were given on a weekly basis. Results indicate that Paclitaxel is associated with better locoregional control of the cancer at the end of 1 year. However, long term follow up did not reveal significant differences in locoregional control and overall survival in the two groups.

Findings from the study may lead to more effective treatments for head and neck cancer for patients who are unwilling or unable to undergo surgery, and in areas where hospitals do not have the proper facilities to perform traditional chemoradiation treatments.


The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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