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Docetaxel in the treatment of squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck

Authors Rapidis A, Sarlis N, Lefebvre J-L, Kies M

Published 10 October 2008 Volume 2008:4(5) Pages 865—886


Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 2

Alexander Rapidis1, Nicholas Sarlis2, Jean-Louis Lefebvre3, Merrill Kies4

1Department of Maxillofacial Surgery, Greek Anticancer Institute, Saint Savvas Hospital, Athens, Greece; 2Department of Medical Affairs, Oncology – US Sanofi-Aventis, Bridgewater, NJ, USA; 3Head and Neck Department, Centre Régional de Lutte Contre le Cancer de Lille, Lille, France; 4Department of Thoracic/Head and Neck Medical Oncology, The University of Texas – M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX, USA

Abstract: Squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck (SCCHN) presents at a locally advanced (LA) stage in many patients. Chemotherapy has been successfully integrated into first-line treatment programs, either during or prior to radiotherapy (RT) – the cornerstone modality for local disease control of inoperable disease or when organ preservation is desired. Concomitant chemoradiotherapy (CCRT) provides an absolute survival benefit when compared with other types of locoregional therapy that exclude chemotherapy. Nonetheless, distant metastases still represent the most common cause of treatment failure. Consequently, adding induction chemotherapy (ICT) to definitive non-surgical local therapies with a curative intent has been vigorously explored in LA SCCHN. Recently, it has been shown that ICT using the combination of the taxane docetaxel with cisplatin–5-fluorouracil provides significant survival benefit over cisplatin–5-FU, when used before either definitive RT (TAX323 trial) or carboplatin-based CCRT (TAX324 trial). Docetaxel is also being investigated in metastatic or recurrent (M/R) disease, with promising initial results. It is very likely that the future management strategies of SCCHN will incorporate biologic agents as an add-on to docetaxel-containing schemas, administered either as ICT prior to CCRT in the LA setting or for the management of M/R disease.

Keywords: chemoradiotherapy, chemotherapy, docetaxel, head and neck carcinoma, induction, locally advanced, taxane

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