Know Cancer

forgot password

A Phase II Trial Evaluating Weekly Docetaxel and Capecitabine in Patients With Metastatic or Advanced, Locally, Recurrent Head and Neck Cancer

Phase 2
18 Years
Not Enrolling
Head and Neck Cancer

Thank you

Trial Information

A Phase II Trial Evaluating Weekly Docetaxel and Capecitabine in Patients With Metastatic or Advanced, Locally, Recurrent Head and Neck Cancer

Approximately 28,900 patients will be diagnosed with squamous cell cancers of the oral
cavity and pharynx in the year 2002. Of these, an estimated 7,400 patients will present
with metastases or develop recurrent disease, which is not amenable to surgery or radiation
therapy. Palliative chemotherapy is thus the only treatment option. Currently,
combinations of cisplatin and 5-fluorouracil are used as first line treatment strategies,
with median times to progression of 2.5 to 3 months and median survival rates of 5 to 7
months. The time to achieve maximum response with combination therapy is on average 4

Taxanes, with their unique mechanism of microtubule stabilization, have demonstrated
response rates similar to standard, first line combination regimens. Several phase II
studies have evaluated the efficacy of single agent docetaxel in head and neck cancer
patients. Cumulative response rates were approximately 30%, with higher response rates
observed in patients receiving no prior chemotherapy. Docetaxel has also been used in
combination with cisplatin and cisplatin and 5-fluorouracil. Although response rates with
such combination regimens were superior to the use of single agent docetaxel, grade 3 and 4
toxicities were also more prevalent.

Capecitabine (Xeloda®), a fluoropyrimidine carbamate, is an oral prodrug, which is converted
in tumor tissues to 5-fluorouracil through multienzymatic activation. Capecitabine
(Xeloda®) has documented activity in breast and colorectal cancers and is widely
administered. Because 5-fluorouracil has efficacy in the treatment of head and neck cancer,
it is reasonable to consider that such tumors will respond to capecitabine. To date, there
are no published trials using capecitabine (Xeloda®) in the treatment of metastatic head and
neck cancer patients. However, clinical trials are ongoing in the U.S. and Europe with
promising results.

In preclinical models, a synergistic interaction between capecitabine and docetaxel has been
documented. One possible explanation for the synergy is that docetaxel up-regulates tumor
levels of thymidine phosphorylase, the enzyme essential for the activation of capecitabine
and 5'-dFUrd to 5-fluorouracil. Clinically, O'Shaughnessy, et al. recently reported
improved survival with docetaxel/capecitabine combination therapy in patients with
metastatic breast cancer, who previously failed anthracycline-containing chemotherapy. In
this phase III study, patients were stratified according to previous exposure to paclitaxel
and then randomized to capecitabine (Xeloda®) (1250 mg/m2 twice daily, days 1-14) plus
docetaxel (75 mg/m2 day 1, repeated every 21 days) versus docetaxel alone. Grade 3 and 4
toxicities were more common in the docetaxel/capecitabine combination arm. Capecitabine
(Xeloda®) and docetaxel were interrupted and the dosages reduced by 25% in patients who
experienced a second occurrence of a given grade 2 toxicity, or any grade 3 toxicity,
suggesting that the starting dosages were perhaps too high.

The role of chemotherapy in metastatic head and neck cancer is limited to palliation of the
symptoms of disease. Platinum and 5-fluorouracil combinations remain standard first line
treatment strategies. The taxanes have been shown to have similar efficacy to such first
line regimens and are often used as salvage treatment for patients with metastatic disease.
Given that docetaxel has documented clinical efficacy in head and neck cancer and that
there are preclinical data to suggest synergy with docetaxel and capecitabine, it is
reasonable to consider using these agents in combination to treat head and neck cancer
patients. Moreover, capecitabine and docetaxel have distinct mechanisms of action and no
overlap of key toxicities. A recent phase I/II study by Tonkin, et al. in metastatic breast
cancer patients demonstrated activity and less toxicity when docetaxel 30 mg/m2/week (day 1
and 8 q21 days) was combined with capecitabine 1800 mg/m2/day (14 of 21 days). In another
phase I study by Nadella, et al. weekly docetaxel (36 mg/m2 ) was combined with 14 days of
capecitabine (up to 1500 mg/m2/day) over a course of 28 days. Antitumor responses were
observed in patients with breast, colon, and bladder cancers. Hence, we propose this study
whereby patients with previously treated, metastatic/recurrent head and neck cancer will
receive treatment with docetaxel and capecitabine.

To reduce the potential for toxicity, we will use a modification of the Nadella regimen.
Docetaxel will be administered weekly at a dosage of 30 mg/m2 for 3 out of every 4 weeks and
capecitabine will be administered at a flat dosage of 2000 mg per day (1000 mg p.o. b.i.d.)
for two weeks out of every 4 weeks. The justification for using a flat dosage of
capecitabine versus a calculated dosage is based on pharmacokinetic data that show no change
in clearance of capecitabine with changes in BSA. We plan to use a fixed dose of 2000 mg qd
(1000 mg q am and 1000 mg q pm). Fixed dosing of capecitabine is convenient and feasible, as
shown in a prior University of Michigan study in breast cancer patients. In another study
Schott, et al. informally piloted the combination of weekly docetaxel 36 mg/m2 and 1500 mg
twice daily (3000 mg/day) x 14 days capecitabine in metastatic breast cancer patients, and
found it to be without unexpected or untoward side effects. Additionally, to take advantage
of the time course of upregulation of TP in the preclinical models, the capecitabine dose
will be given on days 5-18. In a flat dosing scheme, the Nadella regimen would have
administered an average dose of 2125 mg qd for 14 days, assuming an average BSA of 1.7 m2.
We plan to round this dosage downward to 2000 mg per day x 14 days; therefore, our regimen
will use a slightly lower dosage of capecitabine. We feel that our proposed slightly lowered
dose (closer to Nadella phase I dosing vs. Tonkin) of capecitabine is justified for the
following reasons:

1. The Nadella study was performed in a group of patients with solid tumor malignancies
that were refractory to conventional therapy or for whom no effective therapy existed.
ECOG performance status (PS) was 1 or 2 in 5/17 (30%) patients, 10/17 patients had
received 2 or more lines of previous chemotherapy, and 7/17 patients had received
previous radiotherapy. Based on data from previous treatment of head and neck cancer
patients at the University of Michigan, the patient population to be enrolled in this
trial is expected to be 60% PS 0 and 40% PS 1, and some will have received prior
chemotherapy and/or radiotherapy. Like the Nadella patient population, a majority of
our patients have been pretreated and are of poorer health.

2. Dose interruptions and modifications are built into the protocol so that appropriate
changes in treatment can be made in patients with Grade I or II toxicity, before the
toxicity becomes Grade III or greater. Since the docetaxel is given weekly, and the
capecitabine is administered daily, if patients are experiencing toxicity within a
cycle, the dose of either can be held or modified.

Inclusion Criteria:

- Patients must have documented advanced, locally recurrent, or metastatic head and
neck carcinoma, which is untreatable by surgical resection or radiation therapy.

- Prior chemotherapy for advanced/metastatic disease is allowed (1 regimen only).

- Patients must be taxane-naïve (no prior docetaxel or paclitaxel).

- Patients who have received chemoradiation as a primary therapy for advanced head and
neck cancer are eligible.

- Patients must have measurable or evaluable disease. Pre-study imaging for disease
assessment must be done within 28 days of registration.

- Patients with brain metastases are eligible if they have been stable for at least
six weeks post-radiation therapy.

- Aged 18 years or older

- Performance status of 0-2 by Zubrod criteria.

- Life expectancy of at least 12 weeks.

- Hematologic: absolute neutrophil count (ANC) equal to or > 1,500/mm3; hemoglobin
equal to or > 8.0 g/dl; platelets equal to or > 100,000/mm3.

- Total bilirubin must be within normal institutional limits (WNL).

- Transaminases (AST/SGOT and ALT/SGPT) may be up to 2.5 X the institutional upper
limit of normal (ULN) if alkaline phosphatase is less than ULN, or alkaline
phosphatase may be up to 4 X ULN if transaminases are less than ULN.

- A calculated creatinine clearance of > 50 ml/min

- Women of childbearing potential must have a negative pregnancy test at baseline,
prior to receiving any study drug. (Pregnant or lactating patients are excluded.)

- Patients of reproductive potential must practice effective contraception while on
study and for at least six months after receiving the last dose of study drug.

- All patients must sign an informed consent prior to enrollment.

- No prior history of malignancy, except for adequately treated skin cancer or in situ
cervical carcinoma or any other cancer in complete remission for at least two years.

Exclusion Criteria:

- Patients with congestive heart failure, second or third degree heart block or recent
myocardial infarction within 12 months from registration are not eligible.

- Peripheral neuropathy equal to or greater than grade 2.

- Patients with a history of severe hypersensitivity reaction to drugs formulated with
polysorbate 80.

- Use of standard chemotherapy or investigational agents for treatment of head and neck
cancer within 28 days of 1st dose of study drug.

- Any medical or psychiatric illness which, in the opinion of the principal
investigator, would compromise the patient's ability to tolerate this treatment

- Prior unanticipated severe reaction to fluoropyrimidine therapy or known
hypersensitivity to 5-fluorouracil.

- Pregnant or lactating women, women of childbearing potential with either a positive
pregnancy test (PPT) at baseline, or sexually active females not using a reliable
contraceptive method while on study and for at least six months after chemotherapy.
(Postmenopausal women must have been amenorrheic for at least 12 months to be
considered of non-childbearing potential.)

- Sexually active patients not using a reliable contraceptive method while on study and
for at least six months after chemotherapy.

- Patients with malabsorption syndromes will be excluded. Administration of
capecitabine through feeding tubes is permitted.

- Serious concurrent infections.

- Any other serious uncontrolled medical or surgical conditions that the investigator
feels might compromise study participation.

Type of Study:


Study Design:

Allocation: Non-Randomized, Endpoint Classification: Safety/Efficacy Study, Intervention Model: Single Group Assignment, Masking: Open Label, Primary Purpose: Treatment

Outcome Measure:

To measure the overall response rate (complete response and partial response) at 4 months of docetaxel and capecitabine in patients with advanced, locally recurrent or metastatic head and neck cancer.

Outcome Time Frame:

4 months

Safety Issue:


Principal Investigator

Francis Worden, M.D.

Investigator Role:

Principal Investigator

Investigator Affiliation:

University of Michigan Cancer Center


United States: Institutional Review Board

Study ID:

UMCC 2-33



Start Date:

November 2002

Completion Date:

July 2010

Related Keywords:

  • Head and Neck Cancer
  • Squamous cell cancer of the oral cavity and pharynx
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms



University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center Ann Arbor, Michigan  48109-0752