Combination Chemo/Radiation Treatment Improves Head & Neck Cancer Patient Survival Rates

by: cancercompass

Combining radiation with chemotherapy in the treatment of advanced head and neck cancers may help patients live event-free (without cancer recurrence or new tumors) for 2.2 years, according to new research discussed in U.S. News & World Report.

The article points out that the common survival rate for patients with advanced head and neck cancers is just one year with radiotherapy alone.

During the study, researchers analyzed the 10 year outcomes of 966 patients with locally advanced head and neck cancer. Patients who hadn't had surgery for their cancer were randomly assigned to one of four groups: radiotherapy alone (233 patients); two courses of simultaneous (SIM) chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatment (166 patients); two courses of chemotherapy after subsequent (SUB) radiotherapy (160 patients); or both SIM and SUB (154 patients). Patients who already underwent surgery were assigned to either radiotherapy alone (135 patients) or SIM alone (118 patients).

Overall findings suggest that non-platinum-based chemotherapy given simultaneously with radiotherapy reduced deaths and cancer recurrence in patients who had not undergone surgery. Patients who had undergone surgery, however, didn't benefit from this combined treatment. In addition, researchers found that giving patients chemotherapy after radiotherapy was ineffective and actually doubled the rate of toxicity.

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