Induction chemotherapy when administered before surgery with curative intent did not improve outcomes in patients with locoregionally advanced oral cavity cancer, a new study published online ahead of print in the European Journal of Cancer has shown.1

For the study, researchers sought to perform a meta-analysis of phase 3 studies to evaluate the effectiveness and safety of induction chemotherapy prior to surgery for untreated patients with oral cavity cancer.

Two prospective, randomized, phase 3 trials that compared induction chemotherapy followed by surgery with or without adjuvant radiotherapy versus surgery with or without postoperative radiotherapy. The trials included a total of 451 patients with 226 receiving chemotherapy and 225 not receiving chemotherapy. Most patients had stage 3/4 disease.

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Results showed that induction chemotherapy was not associated with a significant improvement in loco-regional recurrence, disease-free survival, or overall survival.

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However, a subgroup analysis demonstrated a statistically significant improvement in overall survival with induction chemotherapy in patients with cN2 disease.

The findings suggest that clinically assessed patients with locoregionally advanced N2 oral cavity cancer may benefit from induction chemotherapy.


  1. Marta GN, Riera R, Bossi P, et al; Induction chemotherapy prior to surgery with or without postoperative radiotherapy for oral cavity cancer patients: systematic review and meta-analysis [published online ahead of print August 26, 2015]. E J Cancer. doi: 10.1016/j.ejca.2015.08.007.