Cisplatin Versus Carboplatin and Paclitaxel in Radiochemotherapy for Patients With Locally Advanced Head and Neck Squamous Cell Carcinoma


The implementation of a platinum-containing regimen is recommended for definitive and adjuvant therapy of patients with locally advanced head and neck tumour. We compared the conditions for the use of cisplatin or carboplatin/paclitaxel or for changing between these two regimens on a clinic-specific basis.

Patients and methods

We evaluated 150 patients with advanced head and neck squamous cell carcinoma who received simultaneous radiochemotherapy at our institution between 2012 and 2017. Chemotherapy with weekly doses of cisplatin (40 mg/m2, group 1) or, in cases of impaired renal and/or cardiac function, with weekly doses of carboplatin AUC2 and paclitaxel (45 mg/m2, group 2), was performed as a first-choice therapy. If toxicities occurred in group 1, treatment was switched to the carboplatin/paclitaxel regimen (group 3). Patient- and therapy-related parameters, toxicity and survival data were compared across groups.


We examined 99, 30, and 21 patients in each group who received at least 1 course of chemotherapy. Group 3 patients switched from cisplatin to carboplatin/paclitaxel after a median of 3 courses due to nephrotoxicity (95.2%). The target of at least 5 chemotherapy courses was most frequently achieved by patients in group 1 (69.7%), followed by group 3 (61.9%) and then group 2 (40.0%). Multivariate analysis revealed that patients who switched groups were more likely to be over 60 years old (p=0.021), undergo definitive radiochemotherapy (p=0.049) and develop higher nephrotoxicity (p=0.036) than group 1 patients. Outcomes did not differ between groups.


When cisplatin application is contraindicated due to renal- or cardiotoxicity, carboplatin/paclitaxel is an appropriate option.


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