ASTRO LogoHead and neck cancer patients may find this news to be sort of an eye-opener. A study claims that by applying an accelerated, smaller course of radiation therapy for patients suffering from advanced head and neck cancer may enable doctors to decrease the amount of chemotherapy, thereby diminishing toxicity.

Between July 2002 and May 2005, this multi-institutional randomized phase III trial apparently evaluated roughly 721 patients with stage III-IV carcinoma of the oral cavity, oropharynx, hypopharynx or larynx. Around 360 were supposedly given accelerated radiation and approximately 361 were given usual radiation with two and three cycles of cisplatin.

Phuc Felix Nguyen-Tan, M.D., presenter of the study for the RTOG and assistant professor of radiation oncology at CHUM Notre-Dame in Montreal, Canada, commented, “Accelerated fractionation concurrent with two doses of high dose cisplatinum has the potential to reduce toxicity related to the chemotherapy regimen by not exposing patients to a third cycle.”

Post a median follow up of about 4.8 years, the by and large survival of accelerated radiation patients as opposed to normal radiation patients appeared to be 59 percent and 56 percent correspondingly. It was seen that disease-free survival rates were said to be 45 percent and 44 percent respectively. Moreover, local-regional failure and metastasis rates were also seen to be fairly comparable at 31 and 28 percent and 18 and 22 percent, correspondingly.

The study was presented at the Multidisciplinary Head and Neck Cancer Symposium, sponsored by AHNS, ASCO, ASTRO and SNM.