Background: The standard chemotherapy treatment protocol for patients with recurrent/metastatic head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) requires as long as 56 days of hospitalization over six months. Where the 5-Fluorouracil (5-FU) pump is available, most treatment will be on outpatient bases, however patients will still be under chemotherapy treatment for a comparable period of time (around 50 days). Aim: A modified protocol was assessed to decrease hospitalization and/or chemotherapy treatment time without sacrificing outcomes, to potentially increase patient quality of life. Methods and results: A retrospective analysis (2005–2018) of recurrent/metastatic HNSCC patients with a modified treatment protocol was performed. Treatment consisted of cisplatin, cetuximab, 5-fluorouracil bolus and leucovorin administered on day 1 of a 2-week cycle, and a continuous infusion of 5-fluorouracil on days 1–2 of the cycle. Outcomes were measured by progression-free survival, overall survival, and patient hospitalization time. Analysis was done using the Kaplan–Meier survival function curve. The study cohort consisted of 27 patients. The modified treatment protocol resulted in a median progression-free survival of nine months and median overall survival of 14 months, while hospitalization time was reduced by almost 80% in the first six months of treatment. Conclusions: Modification of the cisplatin, cetuximab, 5-FU and leucovorin protocol to a bi-weekly regimen utilizing alternative drug delivery methods, significantly reduced patient hospitalization from 56 days to 12 days in the first 6 months of treatment. This was achieved without compromising treatment outcome, while significantly reducing the days patients were exposed to chemotherapy, and thus potentially improving quality of life.
- head and neck squamous cell carcinoma
- patient chemotherapy exposure