Survival results from a phase III study of simultaneous versus 1-hour sequential methotrexate—5-fluorouracil chemotherapy in head and neck cancer
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There were 79 patients with squamous cell head and neck cancer randomized to receive simultaneous or 1 hour sequential methotrexate-5 fluorouracil (MTX--5-FU) chemotherapy: 47 patients were previously untreated and 32 patients had recurrent disease. The treatment groups were comparable for important prognostic features. The median survival for the 47 newly presenting patients was 22 months and for recurrent disease patients was 14 months. No difference could be detected in the survival of patients who received simultaneous versus sequential chemotherapy. When only chemotherapy responders were compared, no difference in survival was detected for those who received sequential versus simultaneous therapy. Subsequently, 19 chemotherapy responders received radical radiation therapy, and 15 were rendered disease-free whereas only 4 of 17 chemotherapy nonresponders were rendered disease-free by subsequent radiation (P = .002). The survival of the 19 chemotherapy responders was 34 months compared with 16 months for the 17 chemotherapy nonresponders treated with radiation. We conclude that there is no therapeutic advantage for 1 hour sequential MTX-5 FU chemotherapy compared with simultaneous use of these drugs in squamous cell head and neck cancer. Chemotherapy responders are more likely to respond to radiation therapy.
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