RESEARCH SUPPORT, U.S. GOV'T, P.H.S.
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Final report of a phase II evaluation of paclitaxel in patients with advanced squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck: an Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group trial (PA390).

Cancer 1998 June 2
BACKGROUND: A number of single agents have been tested in patients with carcinoma of the head and neck receiving palliative treatment. In general, 15-30% of patients achieve a partial response lasting 3-4 months. Treatment has not been shown to alter survival rates. It is clear that new drugs with potentially greater activity need to be identified. For this purpose, the Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group conducted a Phase II evaluation of paclitaxel.

METHODS: Patients with recurrent, metastatic, or locally advanced, incurable squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck were eligible. The dose and schedule tested was the maximum tolerable dose of 250 mg/m2 determined from Phase I trials using a 24-hour infusion schedule and granulocyte-colony stimulating factor support. Courses were given at 3-week intervals until progression of disease was documented. Dose modifications were specified for hematologic toxicity and for neurotoxicity.

RESULTS: Thirty-four patients were registered on study and 30 were eligible. Severe or life-threatening granulocytopenia was the most frequent toxicity observed, occurring in 91% of patients. Prior to response evaluation, one patient died of sepsis and one died of a myocardial infarct. Response was observed in 40% of eligible patients (4 complete and 8 partial responses). The median duration of response was 4.5 months (range, 2-20 months), with a median survival of 9.2 months and a 1-year survival rate of 33%.

CONCLUSIONS: These results indicate that paclitaxel is an active agent for the treatment of squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck. Studies evaluating alternative infusion schedules and combination regimens currently are underway.

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