A phase I trial of 96-hour paclitaxel infusion plus accelerated radiotherapy for unresectable head and neck cancer

M. MacHtay, V. Aviles, M. M. Kligerman, J. Treat, G. S. Weinstein, R. S. Weber, N. Mirza, A. A. Chalian, D. I. Rosenthal

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17 Scopus citations


Purpose: To determine the maximum tolerated dose (MTD) of paclitaxel given as a 96-hour continuous infusion during Weeks 1 and 5 of an accelerated radiotherapy schedule for the definitive treatment of advanced (nonmetastatic) unresectable squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck (SCCHN). Methods and Materials: Thirteen patients with Stage IV SCCHN were enrolled. Radiotherapy consisted of 70-72 Gy over 6 weeks, with a fractionation scheme of 2 Gy q.d. for 4 weeks followed by 1.6 Gy b.i.d, for 2 weeks, with no planned interruptions. Paclitaxel was administered over a 96- hour continuous infusion during Weeks 1 and 5 of radiotherapy at the following dose levels: Dose Level 1:40 mg/m2/96-hours (3 patients); Dose Level 2: 80 mg/m2/96-hrs (5 patients); Dose Level 3: 120 mg/m2/96-hours (2 patients); and Dose Level 2A: 100 mg/m2/96 hours (3 patients). Results: The MTD of Paclitaxel was 100 mg/m2/96-hours. All but one patient (who experienced progressive disease after receiving 61 Gy and both cycles of paclitaxel) completed therapy as planned. Dose-limiting toxicity occurred in both patients enrolled at Dose Level 3, with one patient experiencing Grade 4 diffuse moist desquamation and the other patient experiencing Grade 4 mucositis and febrile neutropenia. Thus, Dose Level 2A was opened and no dose limiting toxicity was noted. Grade 3 non-dose limiting mucositis and dermatitis occurred at all paclitaxel dose levels. There were no treatment- related deaths. All Grade 3 and 4 toxicities were reversible. Complete responses were seen in 8 of 13 patients, 4 patients achieved partial responses, and 1 patient had no response/progressive disease. Conclusions: Infusional paclitaxel over 96 hours during Weeks 1 and 5 of this accelerated radiotherapy schedule is feasible. The MTD of paclitaxel in this protocol was 100 mg/m2/96-hours. Dose-limiting toxicities were primarily enhanced epithelial reactions, but febrile neutropenia also occurred. All patients develop non-dose limiting Grade 3 skin and mucosal reactions, reflecting the high treatment intensity. This regimen merits further investigation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)311-315
Number of pages5
JournalInternational Journal of Radiation Oncology Biology Physics
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 1999

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

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


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