• Carcinoma;
  • squamous cell;
  • head and neck neoplasms;
  • radiotherapy;
  • chemotherapy;
  • adjuvant


Objective To review the roles of altered fractionation and adjuvant chemotherapy in the treatment of patients with squamous cell carcinomas of the head and neck.

Study Design Review of the pertinent literature.

Methods The literature pertaining to altered fractionation and/or adjuvant chemotherapy for patients with squamous cell carcinomas of the head and neck was reviewed to define the optimal combination of radiotherapy and adjuvant chemotherapy.

Results The efficacy of altered fractionation compared with conventional fractionation depends on the fractionation schedule employed. Some hyperfractionated and accelerated fractionation schedules have resulted in improved locoregional control but no significant improvement in overall survival. In contrast to induction and maintenance chemotherapy, concomitant chemotherapy appears to result in improved locoregional control and survival.

Conclusions Altered fractionation and/or concomitant chemotherapy results in improved locoregional control and, in some instances, survival for patients with advanced head and neck cancer. Depending on primary site, the applicability of these aggressive treatment regimens is limited by an enhanced probability of severe complications as tumor volume increases. The optimal combination of these modalities is unclear and will be defined by future prospective trials.