Messages from completed randomized trials in head and neck cancer

Charles R. Leemans, Fausto Chiesa, Nicoletta Tradati, Gordon B. Snow

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8 Citations (Scopus)


During the last three decades numerous randomized trials have been conducted in head and neck squamous cell carcinoma. The issue of pre- vs post-operative radiotherapy in advanced cancers was settled in the late 70s in favour of the latter approach and new fractionation schemes are currently being investigated, with no definite answers as yet. There is no uniform policy regarding the problem of elective neck dissection in early stage anterior oral cavity carcinoma. Often some chemotherapeutic regimen is involved in clinical trials in an attempt to improve on the standard of surgery and radiotherapy. Neoadjuvant chemotherapy has never been proven to benefit patients with advanced squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck despite being able to decrease the rate of distant metastases. Chemotherapy given prior to or simultaneously with definite radiotherapy seems to offer the best chances for preserving vital organs, such as the larynx. Methotrexate is still the least toxic and most potent drug in recurrent or metastastic disease. The chemoprotective effect of low-dose isotretinoin on multiple primaries in the head and neck has yet to be evaluated.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)469-476
Number of pages8
JournalEuropean Journal of Surgical Oncology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1997


  • Chemoprevention
  • Head and neck neoplasms
  • Randomized controlled trials
  • Squamous cell carcinoma

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