Laser interstitial thermal therapy (LITT) has been used and accepted as a palliative method for cancer in many different sites of the head and neck, breast, colon, gastrointestinal and superficial tumors. In the head and neck region it has been successfully used to palliate cancer in different sites as a minimally invasive therapy in recurrent and metastatic head and neck cancer. Previous studies have shown that adjuvant chemotherapy can potentiate laser thermal ablation of obstructing tumors leading to improved palliation in advanced cancer patients. Eight patients with recurrent head and neck tumors volunteered to enroll as part of an ongoing phase II LITT clinical trial and also elected to be treated with systemic chemotherapy (cisplatin 80 mg/m2) followed 24 hours later by palliative laser thermal ablation. Laser treatments were repeated in patients with residual disease or recurrence for a total of 27 LITT sessions. Four of the 8 patients treated with laser thermal chemotherapy remained alive after a median follow-up of 12 months. Of the 12 tumor sites treated, complete responses were located in the oral cavity (3), oropharynx (1), hypopharynx (1), maxillary sinus (1), and median survival for these patients was 9.5 months. This initial experience with cisplatinum-based laser chemotherapy indicates both safety and therapeutic potential for palliation of advanced head and neck cancer, but this must be confirmed by longer follow-up in a larger cohort of patients.
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