Disease outcome and associated factors after definitive platinum based chemoradiotherapy for advanced stage HPV-negative head and neck cancer.



Despite advances in clinical management, more than a third of patients with HPV-negative HNSCC do not complete CRT treatment protocols due to cisplatin toxicity. A model that consists of clinical variables and treatment parameters including cisplatin dose provided the strongest association with overall survival. Since cisplatin toxicity is a major obstacle in completing definitive CRT, the development of alternative and less toxic radiosensitizers is therefore warranted to improve treatment results. The association of RT-boost technique with distant metastasis is an important finding and requires further study.


Definitive concomitant cisplatin-based chemoradiotherapy (CRT) is the current gold standard for most patients with advanced stage head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) of the pharynx and larynx. Since previous meta-analysis on CRT outcomes in HNSCC have been reported, advances have been made in radiotherapy techniques and clinical management, while HPV-status has been identified as a strong confounding prognostic factor in oropharyngeal cancer. Here, we present real-world outcome data from a large multicenter cohort of HPV-negative advanced stage HNSCC treated with CRT using contemporary IMRT-based techniques.


Nearly half of the 513 patients (49%) had an oropharyngeal tumor, often locally advanced (73.3% T3-T4b) and with involvement of the regional lymph nodes (84%). Most patients (84%) received cisplatin as single agent. In total 66% received the planned number of cycles and 75% reached a cumulative cisplatin dose of ≥200 mg/m2. Locoregional control was achieved in 324 (63%) patients during follow-up, and no association with tumor sites was observed (p = 0.48). Overall survival at 5 year follow-up was 47%, with a better survival for laryngeal cancer (p = 0.02) compared to other sites. A model with clinical variables (gender, high pre-treatment weight loss, N2c/N3-stage and <200 mg/m2 dose of cisplatin) provided a noticeably stronger association with overall survival than TNM-staging (C- index 0.68 vs 0.55). Simultaneous Integrated Boosting (SIB) significantly outperformed Sequential Boosting (SEQ) to reduce the development of distant metastasis (SEQ vs SIB: OR 1.91 (1.11-3.26; p = 0.02).


Retrospective data were collected from a multicenter cohort of 513 patients treated with definitive concurrent platinum-based CRT with curative intent between January 2009 and August 2017. Only patients with HPV-negative advanced stage (III-IV) HNSCC were included. A prognostic model for outcome was developed based on clinical parameters and compared to TNM.

More about this publication

Radiotherapy and oncology : journal of the European Society for Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology
  • Volume 175
  • Pages 112-121
  • Publication date 01-10-2022

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