Radiotherapy and bleomycin-containing chemotherapy in the treatment of advanced head and neck cancer: Report of six patients and review of the literature

Arlene A. Forastiere, Bhadrasain Vikram, Ronald H. Spiro, Robert E. Wittes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

In an effort to improve the complete remission rate achievable with bleomycin and cisplatin, administered prior to radiotherapy in previously untreated patients with unresectable epidermoid carcinoma of the head and neck, we initiated a pilot study employing simultaneous chemotherapy and radiotherapy. Six patients were treated with bleomycin (B) 15 mg i.m. t.i.w. 30-60 minutes prior to radiotherapy (RT) treatment with conventional fractionation, 180-200 rad/fx, 5 fx/week. During interruptions in B + RT for healing of mucocutaneous reactions, patients received cisplatin 40 mg/m2 once weekly. Toxicity included severe mucositis within the radiation port in all patients, three episodes of infection, and significant myelosuppression in one patient. Transient mild serum creatinine elevation occurred in four patients. Three patients did not complete treatment because of severity of toxicity. Response was: primary- 4 6 CR, 1 6 PR; regional nodes- 1 5 CR, 4 5 PR. Review of the literature of concurrent bleomycin and radiotherapy trials in head and neck cancer indicates that other investigators have encountered severe toxicity using bleomycin dose and radiation fractionation schedules similar to ours. Toxicity may be reduced when lower doses of concurrent bleomycin and/or alternative radiation fractionation schedules are employed. Although results of uncontrolled trials suggest a possible therapeutic advantage to treatment with the combination compared to radiotherapy alone, this has not clearly been established in the four randomized trials reviewed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1441-1450
Number of pages10
JournalInternational journal of radiation oncology, biology, physics
Volume7
Issue number10
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 1981
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Bleomycin
  • Head and neck carcinoma
  • Radiation therapy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiation
  • Oncology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Cancer Research

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