Author(s): Shin DM, Khuri FR, Murphy B, Garden AS, Clayman G,
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Abstract PURPOSE: Retinoids and interferons (IFNs) have single-agent and synergistic combined effects in modulating cell proliferation, differentiation, and apoptosis in vitro and clinical activity in vivo in the head and neck and other sites. Alpha-tocopherol has chemopreventive activity in the head and neck and may decrease 13-cis-retinoic acid (13-cRA) toxicity. We designed the present phase II adjuvant trial to prevent recurrence or second primary tumors (SPTs) using 13-cRA, IFN-alpha, and alpha-tocopherol in locally advanced-stage head and neck cancer. PATIENTS AND METHODS: After definitive local treatment with surgery, radiotherapy, or both, patients with locally advanced SCCHN were treated with 13-cRA (50 mg/m(2)/d, orally, daily), IFN-alpha (3 x 10(6) IU/m(2), subcutaneous injection, three times a week), and alpha-tocopherol (1,200 IU/d, orally, daily) for 12 months, with a dose modification. Screening for recurrence or SPTs was performed every 3 months. RESULTS: Tumors of 11 (24\%) of the 45 treated patients were stage III, and 34 (76\%) were stage IV. Thirty-eight (86\%) of 44 patients completed the full 12-month treatment (doses modified as needed). Toxicity generally was consistent with previous IFN and 13-cRA reports and included mild to moderate mucocutaneous and flu-like symptoms; occasional significant fatigue (grade 3 in 7\% of patients), mild to moderate hypertriglyceridemia in 30\% of patients who continued treatment along with antilipid therapy, and mild hematologic side effects. Six patients did not complete the planned treatment because of intolerable toxicity or social problems. At a median 24-months of follow-up, our clinical end point rates were 9\% for local/regional recurrence (four patients), 5\% for local/regional recurrence and distant metastases (two patients), and 2\% for SPT (one patient), which was acute promyelocytic leukemia (ie, not of the upper aerodigestive tract). Median 1- and 2-year rates of overall survival were 98\% and 91\%, respectively, and of disease-free survival were 91\% and 84\%, respectively. CONCLUSION: The novel biologic agent combination of IFN-alpha, 13-cRA, and alpha-tocopherol was generally well tolerated and promising as adjuvant therapy for locally advanced squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck. We are currently conducting a phase III randomized study of this combination (v no treatment) to confirm these phase II study results.
This article was published in J Clin Oncol
and referenced in Journal of Clinical & Experimental Pharmacology