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April 1981

Chemotherapy for Advanced Carcinoma of the Head and Neck: A Clinical Update

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Medicine, Sidney Farber Cancer Institute (Drs Ervin, Miller, Fabian, and Meshad); and the Joint Center for Radiation Therapy, Harvard Medical School (Dr Weichselbaum), Boston.

Arch Otolaryngol. 1981;107(4):237-241. doi:10.1001/archotol.1981.00790400039009

• Optimal therapy for stage III and stage IV squamous carcinoma arising in the head and neck requires a multidisciplinary approach, including chemotherapy. Advances have identified several chemotherapeutic agents and combinations of agents that show substantial antitumor activity in this disease. While antitumor activity can be documented, experience indicates the duration of antitumor effect is short, and the toxicity may limit further therapy. To date, studies have not shown an advantage of combination chemotherapy over single agents. Theoretically, combination chemotherapy should increase patient survival through regression of the primary tumor as well as ablation of distant metastases. An analysis of recent trials with patients who received induction chemotherapy before definitive local treatment suggests that regression of tumor in stage III and stage IV lesions before definitive therapy may increase local treatment for regional disease. Randomized trials are needed to confirm or disprove the efficacy of combination chemotherapy for advanced squamous carcinoma of the head and neck.

(Arch Otolaryngol 1981;107:237-241)

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