Definitive chemoradiotherapy in patients with squamous cell cancers of the head and neck-results from an unselected cohort of the clinical cooperation group "Personalized Radiotherapy in Head and Neck Cancer".
Background Definitive chemoradiotherapy (dCRT) is a standard treatment for patients with locally advanced head and neck cancer. There is a clinical need for a stratification of this prognostically heterogeneous group of tumors in order to optimize treatment of individual patients. We retrospectively reviewed all patients with head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) of the oral cavity, oropharynx, hypopharynx, or larynx, treated with dCRT from 09/2008 until 03/2016 at the Department of Radiation Oncology, LMU Munich. Here we report the clinical results of the cohort which represent the basis for biomarker discovery and molecular genetic research within the framework of a clinical cooperation group. Methods Patient data were collected and analyzed for outcome and treatment failures with regard to previously described and established risk factors. Results We identified 184 patients with a median follow-up of 65 months and a median age of 64 years. Patients received dCRT with a median dose of 70 Gy and simultaneous chemotherapy in 90.2% of cases, mostly mitomycin C / 5-FU in concordance with the ARO 95-06 trial. The actuarial 3-year overall survival (OS), local, locoregional and distant failure rates were 42.7, 29.8, 34.0 and 23.4%, respectively. Human papillomavirus-associated oropharynx cancer (HPVOPC) and smaller gross tumor volume were associated with significantly improved locoregional tumor control rate, disease-free survival (DFS) and OS in multivariate analysis. Additionally, lower hemoglobin levels were significantly associated with impaired DFS und OS in univariate analysis. The extent of lymph node involvement was associated with distant failure, DFS and OS. Moreover, 92 patients (50%) of our cohort have been treated in concordance with the ARO 95-06 study, corroborating the results of this study. Conclusion Our cohort is a large unselected monocentric cohort of HNSCC patients treated with dCRT. Tumor control rates and survival rates compare favorably with the results of previously published reports. The clinical data, together with the available tumor samples from biopsies, will allow translational research based on molecular genetic analyses.