The comparison of acute toxicity in 2 treatment courses: Three-weekly and weekly cisplatin treatment administered with radiotherapy in patients with head and neck squamous cell carcinoma

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The most appropriate cisplatin treatment schedule delivered with radiotherapy in patients with head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) is unknown. The aim of this study was to compare the acute toxicity and its impact on the course of the treatment, administered cisplatin and radiation doses, the length of hospitalization and supportive drugs administration in patients with HNSCC receiving 2 different cisplatin treatment schedules administered with radiotherapy.

In this retrospective analysis, 104 patients with HNSCC were enrolled. Patients received radiation concurrently with 100 mg/m2 cisplatin administered 3-weekly (n = 50; group A) or 35 to 40 mg/m2 cisplatin administered weekly (n = 54; group B). Chemoradiotherapy was performed in locally and/or regionally advanced disease (stage III–IV), in a definitive radical upfront setting (71.1%) or after surgical resection in patients with high-risk factors (28.8%).

Both study groups were equally distributed in terms of age, gender, stage of the disease, Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group performance score, chronic diseases and primary tumor site. The schedule of cisplatin dosing did not influence the duration of hospitalization, the number of additional supportive drugs (antibiotics, opioids) administered or total doses of received radiotherapy. However, postponement of radiotherapy due to adverse events was significantly more frequent in patients treated with 35/40 mg/m2 (55.56% vs 32%; P = .015). Furthermore, patients treated with weekly treatment schedule received lower total cisplatin dose (160 mg/m2) in comparison to those treated with the 3-weekly schedule (200 mg/m2). Grade 3 and 4 mucositis occurred more frequently in patients treated in group A (70% vs 50%; P = .037). Leukopenia was also observed more frequently in group A (88% vs 72.2%; P = .04), however there was no difference in grade 3/4 leukopenia between both study arms. There was no statistically significant difference in any other adverse effects.

These results do not demonstrate the advantage of modified weekly schedule over standard 3-weekly cisplatin treatment plan. However, severe mucositis occurred more frequently in patients receiving 3-weekly cisplatin, both chemotherapy schedules seemed to present similar toxicity. Due to conflicting efficacy and toxicity, the results and compliance of weekly and 3-weekly cisplatin schedules should be evaluated in further randomized, controlled trials and retrospective studies.

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