Living Longer with Oral Cancer

Nasopharyngeal carcinoma responds best to concurrent chemotherapy and radiotherapy

(RxWiki News) Rarely seen in the United States, nasopharyngeal carcinoma appears mostly in Southern China and Southeast Asia. Medical researchers have found a new and better method of treating this disease that substantially improves survival.

Giving chemotherapy and radiation at the same time helps patients with stage II nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC) live longer. Those are the findings of a recently published phase III study.

"Ask your oncologist about integrating chemotherapy and radiation treatments."

Nasopharygeal carcinoma is cancer of the throat where the nasal passage meets. Asian men are at highest risk.

For this study, Qui-Yan Chen, M.D., Ph.D., of the Sun Yat-sen University Cancer Center in the People's Republic of China, enrolled 230 NPC patients. They were randomly assigned  to receive radiation therapy alone or simultaneous chemotherapy and radiation.

After following the patients for about 5 years, researchers learned that the combined treatments improved overall outlook for patients:

  • In the group that received only radiation, 22.8 percent of patients had the disease progress, compared to  11.2 percent in the concurrent therapy group.
  • Five-year overall, progression-free and distant metastasis-free survival were considerably  higher in the combined therapy group compared with the radiation only group.

Authors conclude that the combination therapy is an optimal treatment regimen for early stage NPC.

Results from this study were published November 4, 2011 in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

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Review Date: 
November 4, 2011