BACKGROUND: This study evaluated the feasibility, toxicity, response rate and survival of neoadjuvant superselective intra-arterial infusion of high dose carboplatin in advanced head and neck cancer. METHODS: Forty-six patients with primary head and neck squamous cell carcinoma received 3 cycles of intra-arterial carboplatin (300 to 350 mg/m2 per cycle every 2 weeks), followed by radiotherapy or surgery plus radiotherapy. RESULTS: No complications or severe toxicity occurred. Sixteen patients (35%) were complete responders, 20 (43%) partial responders while 10 (22%) did not respond to treatment. After completion of the multimodality treatment, 38/46 patients (83%) were complete responders. After a 5-year follow-up period, 18/46 patients (39%) are alive and disease-free, 3 (6,5%) have died of a second primary tumor and 25 (54.5%) have died of the disease. CONCLUSION: Intra-arterial carboplatin induction chemotherapy is a safe, well-tolerated technique that discriminates between responders and non-responders and so may have prognostic significance in planning further integrated treatments aimed to organ preservation for advanced head and neck carcinomas
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