13-cis-retinoic acid (isotretinoin) and interferon-α have limited activity as single agents in advanced cancer. Preclinical data indicate that these agents have different mechanisms of action and, in combination have greater activity (that is, the ability to modulate growth and differentiation) in a number of malignant cell types than either agent alone. In clinical trials, the new biological regimen of 13-cis-retinoic acid and interferon-α was shown to have major activity in advanced squamous cell carcinoma of the skin and cervix. We conducted a phase II trial of this regimen in recurrent squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck. Of the 21 evaluable patients, none had a complete response, and only one had a partial response (5%). Two patients had minor responses, four had stable disease, and 14 experienced disease progression. Five patients developed grade 3 toxic effects, including skin toxicity, fatigue, headache, and anorexia/weight loss. The median survival duration was 25.5 weeks (range, 4-95). The combination of 13-cis- retinoic acid and interferon-α at this dose and schedule is ineffective for the treatment of recurrent squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck.
- head and neck neoplasms
- retinoic acid