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Benefits Seen From Concurrent Chemotherapy and Radiation

Combination linked to longer event-free survival in head and neck patients not treated surgically

FRIDAY, Oct. 30 (HealthDay News) -- In patients with locally advanced head and neck cancer who hadn't undergone surgery, concurrent radiotherapy and non-platinum chemotherapy was associated with fewer recurrences and deaths over 10 years, according to research published online Oct. 28 in The Lancet Oncology.

Jeffrey S. Tobias, M.D., of the University College Hospital in London, and colleagues analyzed data from 966 patients who were randomized to receive radical radiotherapy alone, two courses of chemotherapy during radiotherapy, two courses of chemotherapy following radiotherapy, or both. Those who'd previously had surgery for the tumor received only radiotherapy alone or concurrent with chemotherapy.

Compared to radiotherapy alone, the researchers found that chemotherapy given concurrently in patients without previous surgery was associated with 1.2 more years of event-free survival. For every 100 patients treated with this option, the researchers noted 11 fewer patients with recurrence, new tumor, or death at 10 years compared with only radiotherapy. They also concluded that chemotherapy given afterward is ineffective, and patients who underwent prior surgery didn't benefit from chemotherapy.

"In summary, UKHAN1 [UK Head and Neck trial] showed that patients with head and neck cancer who had undergone previous surgery did not benefit from the addition of chemotherapy to adjunctive post-operative radiotherapy. However, there was a clear benefit on recurrences and deaths associated with two courses of simultaneous non-platinum chemoradiotherapy in patients who had not undergone previous surgery, and this benefit persisted after a long follow up," the authors write.

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