Phase II trial of chemoradiation for organ preservation in resectable stage III or IV squamous cell carcinomas of the larynx or oropharynx: results of Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group Study E2399.
Taxane-based concurrent chemoradiotherapy (CCR) for head and neck cancers has proven to have a favorable toxicity profile compared with cisplatin and radiation. This phase II multi-institutional trial evaluates taxane-based induction chemotherapy followed by CCR for organ preservation in resectable stage III/IVA and IVB larynx and oropharynx (OP) cancer patients. Eligibility required resectable stage T2N+, or T3-T4N0-3M0 biopsy-proven squamous carcinoma, age at least 18 years, PS 0 to 2, good organ function, and no prior chemotherapy or radiation. Treatment was induction paclitaxel 175 mg/m(2) and carboplatin area under the concentration-time curve (AUC) 6 for two cycles every 21 days followed by concurrent paclitaxel 30 mg/m(2) every 7 days with 70 Gy if no evidence of tumor progression. Weekly erythropoietin alpha 40 kU was used for suboptimal hemoglobin (< 14 gm/dL men, < 13 gm/dL women). The primary end point was organ preservation (freedom from primary site salvage surgery or primary tumor recurrence). One hundred five of 111 patients (36 larynx, 69 OP) were eligible. Median follow-up was 36.7 months. Ninety-four percent received full-dose radiotherapy and 91% received at least five cycles of concurrent paclitaxel. No patient progressed while receiving chemotherapy. Organ preservation was 81% at 2 years after completion of therapy (larynx 74%, OP 84%). Thirteen patients required primary-site salvage surgery (seven larynx, six OP), and six of these have progressed and died (three larynx, three OP). Thirteen patients developed distant metastases (seven larynx, six OP; P = .02) and 10 of 36 larynx and 11 of 69 OP patients have died as a result of their disease. Two-year survival is 76% (63% larynx v 83% OP). A high organ preservation rate was obtained with this regimen for OP but not for larynx patients. Toxicity was low, and induction chemotherapy did not preclude delivery of concurrent chemoradiotherapy.