Effect of recombinant human deoxyribonuclease on oropharyngeal secretions in patients with head-and-neck cancers treated with radiochemotherapy

Bharat B. Mittal*, Edward Wang, Samir Sejpal, Mark Agulnik, Amit Mittal, Kirk Harris

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Purpose The current study examined the effect of recombinant human deoxyribonuclease (rhDNase) on quality of life (QOL) measures, clinical improvement, and DNA content of thick oropharyngeal secretions (OPS) in patients with head-and-neck (H&N) cancers. Methods and Materials Thirty-six patients with local-regional advanced H&N cancer receiving chemoradiationtherapy (CRT) were randomized to receive either placebo or rhDNase. Endpoints included MD Anderson Symptom Inventory-Head and Neck (MDASI-HN) and Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapy-Head and Neck (FACT-NH) scores, along with clinical assessment and DNA concentration of OPS. Results There were no statistically significant differences in patients' QOL outcomes over the study period. Both groups showed an increase in symptom and interference scores, although patients in the rhDNase group showed a greater decline in both scores during the 3 months posttreatment. Similarly, both groups showed a decline in physical and functional well being but recovered in the 3 months posttreatment follow-up, with the rhDNase group exhibiting speedier recovery. Patients in the rhDNase group exhibited significant clinical improvement in OPS, blindly assessed by a physician, compared with the placebo group (67% vs 27%, respectively; P=.046). The rhDNase group showed no change in OPS-DNA concentration, although the placebo group showed a significant increase in DNA concentration during the drug trial (P=.045). There was no differences in acute toxicities between the 2 groups. Conclusions Our preliminary data suggest that rhDNase did not significantly improve study primary endpoints of QOL measures compared with the placebo group. However, there was a significant improvement in secondary endpoints of clinically assessed OPS and DNA concentration compared with placebo in H&N cancer patients treated with CRT. Further investigation in larger numbers of patients is warranted.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)282-289
Number of pages8
JournalInternational Journal of Radiation Oncology Biology Physics
Issue number2
StatePublished - Oct 1 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiation
  • Oncology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Cancer Research


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