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A phase II study of docetaxel in patients with metastatic squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck.

This study was designed to evaluate the activity, safety and tolerance of docetaxel (D) in a selected population with metastatic squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck (SCCHN). Twenty-four patients with no prior palliative therapy were enrolled and received D 100 mg m(-2) by 1 h of infusion, every 3 weeks. All but two patients had been evaluated for efficacy on lung metastatic sites. No prophylactic administration of anti-emetics or growth factors was given. A pharmacokinetic study was performed in 22 patients. Twenty-one patients were assessable for response and 24 for toxicity. One hundred and four cycles were administered with a median of 4.5 (range 1-9) per patient. The median cumulative dose was 449 mg m(-2). Partial responses were achieved in five patients with a median duration of 18.7 weeks (range 13.1-50.3). The overall response rate was 20.8% with a median duration of 11.0 weeks (range 2.4-52.6). The most frequent side-effect was neutropenia (79.2% grade IV) but with a short duration (median 4 days) and no febrile neutropenia. The incidence of moderate/severe fluid retention was 29.2% with one treatment discontinuation. Other toxicities (all grades) were common (skin 75%, asthenia 50%, infection 29.2%, nausea 16.7%, diarrhoea 12.5%, stomatitis 16.7%, vomiting 8.3% and HSR 8.3%). A mean clearance of 19.6 l h(-1) m(-2) and an area under the curve of 6.00 microg ml(-1) h(-1) was found in the pharmacokinetic analysis. Docetaxel is active in this selected population with metastatic SCCHN, with a good tolerance.

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