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Role of Chemotherapy

D. F. N. Harrison, MD, MS, FRCS
JAMA. 1972;220(3):405-406. doi:10.1001/jama.1972.03200030063018.
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Except among the Chinese, malignant disease of the nasopharynx is a rare condition. However, several large series have reported an incidence rate in white populations of about 0.25% of all malignant tumors.

Initial treatment is usually by radiotherapy, irrespective of the histology of the primary tumor, and results in a five-year cure rate of from 15% to 30%.54 It is unlikely that the prognosis for neoplasms arising at this site will improve unless new modes of therapy are developed, since over 70% of patients present with cervical lymph node metastasis.5-4 The anatomy of the region is complex, making surgical resection impracticable; bone erosion is a common finding on initial examination.

Since at least 70% of all patients fail to respond to orthodox management,54 I have been concerned with the possibilities of palliating these unfortunate patients; it is rarely appreciated that the natural expectation of life for "failed"


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