Long-Term Results of a Phase III Randomized Trial of Postoperative Radiotherapy With or Without Carboplatin in Patients With High-Risk Head and Neck Cancer



Background: The role of postoperative radiotherapy and carboplatin in squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck (SCCHN) has not been established.

Methods: Patients with macroscopically resected stage III/IV SCCHN with high-risk pathologic features (≥3 lymph nodes, extracapsular extension, perineural or angiolymphatic invasion, or involved margins) were randomized to receive postoperative radiotherapy alone (arm A) or the same radiotherapy plus carboplatin 100 mg/m2 intravenously once weekly during radiation (arm B). The primary endpoint was 2-year disease-free survival.

Results: Seventy-six patients were randomized, of whom 72 were eligible and analyzable (36 in each arm). The study was prematurely closed because of slow accrual. With a median follow-up of 5.3 years, the disease-free survival at 2 and 5 years was 71% and 53% in arm B versus 58% (P = .27) and 49% (P = .72) in arm A. The overall survival at 2 and 5 years was 74% and 47% in arm B versus 51% (P = .04) and 41% (P = .61) in arm A. Serious toxicities were infrequent in both arms.

Conclusions: We could not demonstrate a benefit with the addition of carboplatin to postoperative radiotherapy, possibly because of insufficient sample size.