Using low-dose radiation to potentiate the effect of induction chemotherapy in head and neck cancer: Results of a prospective phase 2 trial

Susanne M. Arnold, Mahesh Kudrimoti, Emily V. Dressler, John F. Gleason, Natalie L. Silver, William F. Regine, Joseph Valentino

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Purpose Low-dose fractionated radiation therapy (LDFRT) induces effective cell killing through hyperradiation sensitivity and potentiates effects of chemotherapy. We report our second investigation of LDFRT as a potentiator of the chemotherapeutic effect of induction carboplatin and paclitaxel in locally advanced squamous cell cancer of the head and neck (SCCHN). Experimental design Two cycles of induction therapy were given every 21 days: paclitaxel (75 mg/m2) on days 1, 8, and 15; carboplatin (area under the curve 6) day 1; and LDFRT 50 cGy fractions (2 each on days 1, 2, 8, and 15). Objectives included primary site complete response rate; secondary included overall survival, progression-free survival (PFS), disease-specific survival, and toxicity. Results A total of 24 evaluable patients were enrolled. Primary sites included oropharynx (62.5%), larynx (20.8%), oral cavity (8.3%), and hypopharynx (8.3%). Grade 3/4 toxicities included neutropenia (20%), leukopenia (32%), dehydration/hypotension (8%), anemia (4%), infection (4%), pulmonary/allergic rhinitis (4%), and diarrhea (4%). Primary site response rate was 23/24 (95.8%): 15/24 (62.5%) complete response, 8/24 (33.3%) partial response, and 1/24 (4.2%) stable disease. With median follow-up of 7.75 years, 9-year rates for overall survival were 49.4% (95% confidence interval [CI], 30.5-79.9), PFS was 72.2% (CI, 55.3-94.3), and disease-specific survival was 65.4% (44.3-96.4). Conclusion Chemopotentiating LDFRT combined with paclitaxel and carboplatin is effective in SCCHN and provided an excellent median overall survival of 107.2 months, with median PFS not yet reached in this locally advanced SCCHN cohort. This compares favorably to prior investigations and caused fewer grade 3 and 4 toxicities than more intensive, 3-drug induction regimens. This trial demonstrates the innovative use of LDFRT as a potentiator of chemotherapy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)252-259
Number of pages8
JournalAdvances in Radiation Oncology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 1 2016

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 The Authors on behalf of the American Society for Radiation Oncology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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