Metronomic palliative chemotherapy in locally advanced, recurrent and metastatic head-and-neck cancer: A single-arm, retrospective study of a regional cancer center of North India (Asia)

Head and Neck Cancer

J Cancer Res Ther. 2020 Apr-Jun;16(3):559-564. doi: 10.4103/jcrt.JCRT_702_18.


BACKGROUND: Head-and-neck cancer is the most common cancer in developing countries of Southeast Asia. Most of the patients present to the hospital in advanced stage and have a poor prognosis. This study aims to evaluate the efficacy and toxicity profile of oral metronomic chemotherapy (MCT) in the form of methotrexate and celecoxib in locally advanced, recurrent and metastatic head-and-neck cancers.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: This was a single-arm retrospective observational study that included posttreatment patients with locally advanced, recurrent and metastatic disease in the year 2016 (January 1, to December 31, 2016). A total of 84 patients warranting palliative chemotherapy but not willing to take intravenous chemotherapy were included in the study. The oral MCT schedule consisted of oral celecoxib (200 mg twice daily) and oral methotrexate (15 mg/m2/week). Response evaluation was done using the Response Evaluation Criteria in Solid Tumors criteria version 1.1, and toxicity profile was assessed using the National Cancer Institute Common Terminology Criteria for Adverse Events version 4.03. Descriptive statistics and Kaplan-Meier analysis were performed.

RESULTS: Eighty-four patients, 68 males and 16 females, with a median age of 62 years (range: 35-80 years), were enrolled in the study to receive oral MCT. The Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group performance status was 0-1 in 62 patients and 2-3 in 22 patients. The primary sites of disease were buccal mucosa (18), tongue (22), tonsil (24), lower alveolus (7), hypopharynx (10), and soft palate (3). The best clinical response rate in post oral MCT was seen in the first 4 months (120 days). Objective response was observed in 67% of patients in the form of stable disease (56%) and partial response (11%). Disease progression was observed in 27% of patients. The median follow-up was 192 (6.4 months) days. The median estimated overall survival was 195 (6.5 months) days. The median estimated progression-free survival was 110 (3.6 months) days. Symptomatic relief with respect to pain was reported in about 75% of patients. Eighteen (21%) patients had Grade I-II mucosal reactions. Grade III-IV mucosal reactions were observed in five (6%) patients. Seventy-eight (93%) patients died at the end of the study at 1 year. Dose reduction was required in 15 (18%) patients.

CONCLUSION: Oral MCT using celecoxib and methotrexate is an effective, economical, and well-tolerated regimen with good pain control and low toxicity profile in patients with locally advanced, recurrent and metastatic head-and-neck cancer.