Treatment of advanced head and neck cancer is still a matter of controversy. Although current chemotherapy regimens are able to induce high response rates, they have not shown improved survival. We employed a combination of cisplatin (CDDP), 5-fluorouracil (5FU) and 1-folinic acid (1-FA) in a 6-hour infusion schedule easy to administer on an outpatient basis. 49 patients have been included to date. The treatment plan consists of 5-FU (375 mg/m(2)) plus 1-FA (100 mg/m(2)) in a 4-hour i.v. infusion followed by a 2-hour i.v. administration of CDDP (20 mg/m(2)). This therapy was repeated for five consecutive days and recycled every 3-4 weeks. Out of 46 evaluable patients there were 6 complete responses (CR) and 23 partial responses (PR) for an overall response rate of 63%. Overall survival was 10.2 months (mean). Untreated patients had a higher probability of response as well as patients with naso-oropharyngeal primary tumor. Toxicity was generally mild with leukopenia, anemia and vomiting being the most frequent side effects. In conclusion, this combination appears well tolerated and active in the palliation of advanced head and neck cancer. However we think that increasing dose intensity of standard regimens and experimental new therapeutic approaches are needed to improve the clinical outcome of this disease.
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