The role of paclitaxel in the treatment of head and neck cancer

E. E. Vokes*, D. J. Haraf, K. Stenson, R. Stupp, D. Malone, J. Levin, R. R. Weichselbaum

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Current chemotherapeutic approaches to recurrent head and neck cancer have routinely yielded response rates of 10% to 30% (for single agents) and 30% to 50% (for combination chemotherapy). However, median survival times for patients with metastatic and/or recurrent disease have stagnated at around 6 months since the 1970s. The investigation of new drugs and treatment approaches thus continues to be a high priority. One such agent, paclitaxel (Taxol; Bristol-Myers Squibb Company, Princeton, NJ), has shown good single- agent activity and is also believed to potentiate the effects of radiation therapy in patients with head and neck cancer. We have focused on the addition of paclitaxel to the previously established combination of 5- fluorouracil, hydroxyurea, and radiation therapy. The study goals are to establish the maximum tolerated dose and dose-limiting toxicity of paclitaxel when added to this combination as a 5-day continuous infusion on a biweekly schedule. Preliminary results of this ongoing study have demonstrated activity in patients with poor-prognosis head and neck cancer. Major dose- limiting toxicities have consisted of neutropenia and mucositis, and definition of a recommended phase II dose is in progress.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)8-12
Number of pages5
JournalSeminars in Oncology
Issue number5 SUPPL. 12
StatePublished - 1995

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hematology
  • Oncology


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