Toxicity increases with combined chemo/radiation treatments for nasopharyngeal carcinoma

Jul 15, 2010

Although the standard practice of treating patients with advanced Nasopharyngeal Carcinoma using radiation and chemotherapy may reduce cancer deaths compared to patients treated with radiation alone, non-cancer related deaths and toxicity problems have been shown to increase, according to a recent study published online in The Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

Combining radiation and has been the long-standing standard treatment for nasopharyngeal carcinoma, ever since the Intergroup-0099 Study in the early nineties showed increased three-year overall survival for patients treated with the combined therapies. But there have been few data on the potential toxicities of these treatments. The NPC-990 Trial is the first study with data on toxicities and causes of non-cancer death.

To compare the toxicity profile and overall survival of patients treated with radiation and chemotherapy compared to those treated with radiation therapy alone, Anne W.M. Lee of the Hong Kong Nasopharyngeal Cancer Study Group and colleagues, compared two randomly assigned treatment groups of patients with advanced nasopharyngeal : in the first group 172 patients were treated with radiation alone, compared to a second group of 176 patients treated with both radiation and chemotherapy.

Patients from five hospitals in Hong Kong and Canada were enrolled in the trial, which lasted from March 1999, until February 2004. Patients were followed up at least every three months during the first three years, and then every six months thereafter until death.

The researchers found that the patients taking combined radiation and chemotherapy experienced a statistically significant reduction in deaths due to . But they also experienced a statistically significant increase in deaths due to treatment-related toxicities and other causes. Indeed, there was an acute toxicity rate of 83%, compared to 53% in the group alone.

The authors also reported a "worrisome increase" in non-cancer deaths in the combined therapies group, including infection, second malignancy and suicide. This finding "could narrow the actual magnitude of survival gain," they write.

Explore further: How does prostate cancer form?

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

High-dose radiation improves lung cancer survival

Apr 08, 2009

Higher doses of radiation combined with chemotherapy improve survival in patients with stage III lung cancer, according to a new study by researchers at the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Recommended for you

Specific oxidation regulates cellular functions

39 minutes ago

For a long time, hydrogen peroxide has been considered as a dangerous metabolite that can damage cells through oxidation. This, however, is not its only role in the cell. Scientists from the German Cancer Research Center ...

New disease mechanism discovered in lymphoma

1 hour ago

Programmed cell death is a mechanism that causes defective and potentially harmful cells to destroy themselves. It serves a number of purposes in the body, including the prevention of malignant tumor growth. ...

Researcher to cancer: 'Resistance will be futile'

8 hours ago

Turning the tables, Katherine Borden at the University of Montreal's Institute for Research in Immunology and Cancer (IRIC) has evoked Star Trek's Borg in her fight against the disease. "Cancer cells rapidly ...

How does prostate cancer form?

10 hours ago

Prostate cancer affects more than 23,000 men this year in the USA however the individual genes that initiate prostate cancer formation are poorly understood. Finding an enzyme that regulates this process ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.