Background: Nasopharyngeal cancer (NPC) is a highly chemosensitive malignancy. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the clinical efficacy of high-dose chemotherapy (HDCT) in combination with hematopoietic stem cell transplantation in patients with locally advanced or metastatic NPC. Methods: Nine patients with locally advanced or metastatic NPC were recruited after three to four courses of cisplatin-based chemotherapy followed by a single course of cyclophosphamide 1600 mg/m2 day 1-4, carboplatin 400 mg/m2 day 1-3, and thiotepa 120 mg/m2 day 1-4 or melphalan 120 mg/m2 day 5. Chemoirradiation was administered after HDCT only if the patient had never received radiotherapy or had residual cervical nodes. Results: A median of 8.32 × 106 CD34+ cells/kg was collected. Two patients were rendered disease-free before HDCT, one by massectomy and one by cisplatin-based chemotherapy. All patients recovered rapidly after peripheral blood stem cell transplantation (PBSCT). Among seven assessable patients, response to HDCT was observed in four patients. Only one patient achieved complete response after HDCT. The median time to failure and median survival after HDCT was eight and 18 months, respectively. One patient died of pulmonary hemorrhage two months after transplantation. No long-term disease-free survival was noted. Conclusion: HDCT with autologous PBSCT is feasible with an acceptable toxicity, and can convert partial remission into complete remission. While no long-term disease-free survival was observed in this study, further investigations are needed to establish the role of HDCT in the treatment of NPC.
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