META-ANALYSIS
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Induction chemotherapy followed by concurrent radio-chemotherapy versus concurrent radio-chemotherapy alone as treatment of locally advanced squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck (HNSCC): A meta-analysis of randomized trials.

BACKGROUND: Induction chemotherapy with docetaxel, cisplatin and 5 FU (TPF) before radiotherapy (RT) or radio-chemotherapy (RT-CHX) has been shown to improve overall survival (OS) compared to induction chemotherapy with cisplatin and 5 FU in locally advanced squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck (HNSCC). Whether TPF induction before RT-CHX improves clinical outcome in comparison with RT-CHX alone is still a matter of debate. Recently, the results of 5 randomized trials addressing this question have become available.

METHODS: In the 5 trials of interest, in total 1022 patients with locally advanced HNSCC were randomly assigned to receive either TPF induction CHX followed by concurrent RT-CHX or concurrent RT-CHX alone. Platin or taxane based CHX was used during RT. 51.3% of the patients had oropharyngeal, 7.3% hypoharyngeal, 18.7% laryngeal, 19.4% oral cavity and 3.5% had other HNSCC. Published hazard ratios and hazard ratios extracted from available survival curves for OS and progression free survival (PFS) were basis of the meta-analysis. Meta-analysis of the effect sizes on OS and PFS was performed using a random effects model based on parameter estimates of log hazard ratios in Cox models and their standard errors.

RESULTS: Additional induction CHX with TPF before RT-CHX did neither result in a significant improvement of OS (Hazard Ratio: 1.010, 95% confidence limits (CL) 0.84-1.21, p=0.92), nor in a statistically significant benefit of PFS (Hazard Ratio: 0.91, 95% CL 0.75-1.1, p=0.32).

CONCLUSION: Additional induction CHX with TPF before RT-CHX does not improve OS and PFS in locally advanced HNSCC compared to definite RT-CHX.

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