Objective: To investigate the prognostic value of the pre-treatment haemoglobin level in patients with advanced squamous cell head and neck cancer treated with induction polychemotherapy.
Design: Seventy-two patients with advanced squamous cell head and neck cancer received primary combination chemotherapy consisting of docetaxel 75 mg/m² on day 1, cisplatin 100 mg/m² on day 1, and 5-fluorouracil (5-FU) 1000 mg/m²/day on days 1–4 (total dose 4000 mg/m²), repeated on days 1, 22 and 43 followed by chemoradiation. The data collected included pre-treatment haemoglobin, response to treatment, disease-free and overall survival.
Results: The pre-treatment haemoglobin level was found to be a significant predictor of response to induction chemotherapy (P = 0.01) and an independent predictor of overall survival [hazard ratio (HR) 0.77, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.58–1.03, P = 0.0001] and disease free survival (HR 2.09, 95% CI 1.41–3.09, P = 0.0001). Furthermore N-stage was found to be a significant prognostic factor of overall survival (HR 9.24, 95% CI 6.90–21.34, P = 0.005). The Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group performance status scale was also found to be significant for disease free survival (HR 7.66, 95% CI 2.61–22.46, P = 0.003).
Conclusion: In patients with advanced squamous cell head and neck cancer, the haemoglobin level prior to induction chemotherapy is significantly related to outcome including response and survival.