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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Sequential chemotherapy and intensity-modulated radiation therapy in the management of locoregionally advanced nasopharyngeal carcinoma: Experience of 370 consecutive cases

Shaojun Lin1, Jiade Jay Lu2*, Lu Han1, Qisong Chen1 and Jianji Pan1

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Radiation Oncology, Cancer Hospital of Fujian Medical University, Fuzhou, Fujian, PR China

2 Department of Radiation Oncology, National University Cancer Institute, National University Health System, National University of Singapore, 5 Lower Kent Ridge Road, Singapore 119074, Singapore

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BMC Cancer 2010, 10:39  doi:10.1186/1471-2407-10-39

Published: 10 February 2010



To investigate the outcome of locoregionally advanced nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC) treated with intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) after induction chemotherapy, with or without concomitant chemotherapy.


Between August 2003 and March 2007, 370 patients with locoregionally advanced NPC were treated with IMRT. Presenting stages were stage IIB in 62, stage III in 197, and stage IVA/B in 111 patients. All patients except for 36 patients with cervical lymphadenopathy of 4 cm or less in diameter received 2 cycles of cisplatin-based neoadjuvant chemotherapy. Forty-eight patients received cisplatin-based concurrent chemotherapy as well.


With a median follow-up time of 31 months (range 5 to 61 months), the 3-year local control, regional control, metastasis-free survival (MFS), disease-free survival (DFS) and overall survival (OS) rates were 95%, 97%, 86%, 81% and 89%, respectively. Multivariate analyses revealed that both age (≤ 60 vs. >60) and N-classification are significant prognosticators for OS (P = 0.001, hazard ratio [HR] 2.395, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.432-4.003; P = 0.012, hazard ratio [HR] 2.614, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.235-5.533); And N-classification is the only significant predicative factor for MFS (P = 0.002, [HR] 1.99, 95% CI 1.279-3.098). T-classification and concurrent chemotherapy were not significant prognostic factors for local/regional control, MFS, DFS, or OS. Subgroup analysis revealed that concurrent chemotherapy provided no significant benefit to IMRT in locoregionally advanced NPC, but was responsible for higher rates of grade 3 or 4 acute toxicities (50% vs. 29.8%, P < 0.005). No grade 3 or 4 late toxicity including xerostomia was observed. However, two patients treated with IMRT and neoadjuvant but without concurrent and adjuvant chemotherapy died of treatment related complications.


IMRT following neoadjuvant chemotherapy produced a superb outcome in terms of local control, regional control, MFS, DFS, and OS rates in patients with stage IIB to IVB NPC. Effective treatment strategy is urgently needed for distant control in patients diagnosed with locoregionally advanced NPC.