Health Questions and Answers

Question: Which chemotherapeutic agents are used in the treatment of squamous cell cancers of the head and neck? How effective are they?

Answer:

Effective agents include 5-fluorouracil (5-FU) infusions with cisplatin or carboplatin, taxanes, methotrexate, bleomycin, and mitomycin C. Response rates for these agents vary from 25% to 80%, depending on the agent, schedule, tumor type, previous treatment, and performance status. Combination chemotherapy regimens usually show higher initial response rates but have yet to show an increase in survival rates.

Reference: Calabresi P, Schein PS (eds): Basic Principles and Clinical Management of Cancer, 2nd ed. New York, Macmillan, 1993.

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