Comparison of concurrent chemoradiotherapy versus neoadjuvant chemotherapy followed by radiation in patients with advanced nasopharyngeal carcinoma in endemic area: experience of 128 consecutive cases with 5 year follow-up

Shang-Yin Wu, Yuan-Hua Wu, Ming-Wei Yang, Wei-Ting Hsueh, Jenn-Ren Hsiao, Sen-Tien Tsai, Kwang-Yu Chang, Jeffrey S Chang, Chia-Jui Yen
BMC Cancer 2014, 14: 787

BACKGROUND: Combined radiotherapy and chemotherapy is considered the standard of care for locally advanced nasopharyngeal carcinoma (LA-NPC) in Epstein-Barr virus infection endemic area. This study compared the long-term outcomes between LA-NPC patients treated with neoadjuvant chemotherapy followed by radiotherapy (NACT) and those treated with concurrent chemoradiotherapy (CCRT).

METHODS: From 2003 to 2007, a total of 128 histopathologically proven LA-NPC patients receiving either NACT or CCRT were consecutively enrolled at the National Cheng Kung University Hospital in Taiwan. NACT consisted of 3-week cycles of mitomycin, epirubicin, and cisplatin on day 1 and fluorouracil and leucovorin on day 8 (MEPFL) or weekly alternated cisplatin on day 1 and fluorouracil and leucovorin on day 8 (P-FL). CCRT comprised 3-week cycles of cisplatin (Cis 100) or 4-week cycles of cisplatin and fluorouracil (PF4). The first failure site, disease free survival (DFS), overall survival (OS), and other prognostic factors were analyzed.

RESULTS: Thirty-eight patients (30%) received NACT. Median follow-up duration was 53 months. More patients with advanced nodal disease (N2-N3) (86.8% vs 67.8%, p =0.029) and advanced clinical stage (stage IVA-IVB) enrolled in the NACT group (55.2% vs 26.7%, p =0.002). For NACT, both MEPFL and P-FL had similar 5-year DFS and OS (52.9% vs 50%, p =0.860 and 73.5% vs 62.5%, p =0.342, respectively). For CCRT, both PF4 and Cis 100 had similar 5-year DFS and OS (62.8% vs 69.6%, p =0.49 and 72.9% vs 73.9%, p =0.72, respectively). Compared to CCRT, NACT had similar 5-year DFS and OS (51.5% vs 65.1%, p =0.28 and 71.7% vs 74.3%, p =0.91, respectively). Among patients who were recurrence-free in the first 2 years after treatment, those treated with NACT experienced poorer locoregional control compared to those treated with CCRT (Hazard ratio =2.57, 95% confidence interval: 1.02 to 6.47, p =0.046).

CONCLUSIONS: For LA-NPC, both CCRT and NACT were similarly efficacious treatment strategies in terms of long-term disease control and survival probability. Close locoregional follow-up is recommended for patients receiving NACT, because these patients are more prone to develop locoregional failure than patients receiving CCRT.

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