Background and purpose: After the failure of first-line treatment, the clinical prognosis in head and neck cancer (HNSCC) deteriorates. Effective therapeutic strategies are limited due to the toxicity of previous treatments and the diminished tolerance of surrounding normal tissue. This study demonstrates a promising second-line regimen, with function preserving surgical tumor debulking, followed by a combination of postoperative interstitial brachytherapy and a simultaneous protocol of cetuximab and taxol. Patients and methods: From January 2006 to May 2013, 197 patients with HNSCC were treated with brachytherapy at the University Hospital Schleswig-Holstein Campus Lübeck, including 94 patients due to recurrent cancer. Within these, 18 patients were referred to our clinic because of early progressive disease following first- or second-line treatment failure. They received the new palliative regimen. A matched-pair analysis including recurrent tumor stage, status of resection margins, tissue invasion and previous therapy was performed to evaluate this treatment retrospectively. Overall survival (OS), disease-free survival (DFS), functional outcome and treatment toxicity was analyzed on the basis of medical records and follow-up data. Results: DFS and OS of the study group were 8.7 and 14.8 months. Whereas, DFS and OS of the control group, treated only by function preserving tumor debulking and brachytherapy, was 3.9 and 6.1 months respectively. This demonstrates a positive trend through the additional use of the cetuximab-taxane protocol. Furthermore, no increase of therapy induced toxicities was displayed. Conclusion: Pre-treated patients with a further relapse benefit from the 'cetuximab-taxane recurrency scheme'. It seems to be a valuable complement to interdisciplinary and multimodal tumor therapy, which improves OS and results in acceptable toxicity.
Research Areas and Centers
- Research Area: Luebeck Integrated Oncology Network (LION)