RESEARCH SUPPORT, U.S. GOV'T, P.H.S.
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Randomized phase III evaluation of cisplatin plus fluorouracil versus cisplatin plus paclitaxel in advanced head and neck cancer (E1395): an intergroup trial of the Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group.

PURPOSE: To determine the response rate, survival and toxicity of infusional cisplatin plus fluorouracil (CF) versus cisplatin plus paclitaxel (CP) in patients with incurable squamous cell cancer of the head and neck, with the hypothesis that CP is superior.

PATIENTS AND METHODS: Two hundred eighteen patients with locally advanced, recurrent, or metastatic disease were randomly assigned to CF (cisplatin 100 mg/m2 day 1 and fluorouracil 1,000 mg/m2/24 hours by continuous intravenous infusion day 1 through 4) or CP (cisplatin 75 mg/m2 day 1 and paclitaxel 175 mg/m2 over 3 hours on day 1). Cycles were repeated every 3 weeks until progression or a minimum of 6 cycles with complete response or stable disease. The primary outcome was overall survival. Secondary outcomes included response rate and toxicity.

RESULTS: No significant difference in overall survival or response rate was seen. Estimated median survival was 8.7 months in the CF group and 8.1 month in the CP group. Objective response rate (complete response plus partial response) was 27% in the CF group and 26% in the CP group. Toxicity was similar between groups, with the most frequent including myelosuppression, thrombocytopenia, anemia, nausea, vomiting, and stomatitis. A total of 12 deaths occurred (CF, seven; CP, five) during treatment; eight from infection, two from hemorrhage, one from cardiac causes and one from unknown causes. Gastrointestinal and hematologic toxicities were more common in the CF group, whereas neurotoxicity was equivalent between groups.

CONCLUSION: This phase III, randomized, multicenter trial showed no difference in survival between patients treated with CF or CP.

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