Purpose: Paclitaxel is one of the most active agents for squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck (SCCHN) and an in vitro radiosensitizer. The dose-response relationship for paclitaxel may depend more on exposure duration than on peak concentration. This National Cancer Institute-sponsored phase I trial was designed to determine the feasibility of combining continuous-infusion (CI) paclitaxel with concurrent radiation therapy (RT). Patients and Methods: Patients with previously untreated stage IVA/B SCCHN were eligible. Primary end points were determination of the maximum-tolerated dose, dose-limiting toxicity, and pharmacokinetics for paclitaxel given by CI (24 hours a day, 7 days a week for 7 weeks) during RT (70 Gy/7 weeks). Results: Twenty-seven patients were enrolled and assessable for toxicity. Nineteen of the patients who completed ≥ 70 Gy were assessable for response. Grade 3 skin and mucosal acute reactions occurred at 10.5 mg/m2/d, but uninterrupted treatment was possible in five of six patients. At 17 mg/m2/d, skin toxicity required a 2-week treatment break for all three patients. The mean paclitaxel serum concentration at dose levels ≥ 6.5 mg/m2/d exceeded that reported to achieve in vitro radiosensitization. Initial locoregional control was achieved in 14 (58%) of 24 of patients treated to 70 Gy, and control persisted in nine (38%). Conclusion: CI paclitaxel with concurrent RT is a feasible and tolerable regimen for patients with advanced SCCHN and good performance status. Preliminary response and survival data are encouraging and suggest that further study is indicated. The recommended phase II dose of paclitaxel by CI is 10.5 mg/m2/d with RT for SCCHN.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cancer Research