Introduction: Surgery is an important component of multimodality treatment in advanced oral cavity cancers. But in low-middle-income countries like India, with limited centres offering complex head and neck surgeries, prolonged waiting times for surgery is a major problem. An increase in waiting times for treatment has been shown to be a negative prognosticator in head and neck cancer and many patients can develop interim progression making them ineligible for radical treatment. We share our preliminary experience of using oral metronomic chemotherapy as a preoperative treatment in patients expecting delay in surgery.
Methods: This was a retrospective analysis of case records of patients with resectable Stage III and Stage IV (IVA & IVB) oral cavity cancers who had received preoperative oral metronomic chemotherapy (POMT). The POMT schedule consisted of oral Methotrexate 15 mg/m2 weekly, Celecoxib 200 mg twice daily and Erlotinib 100 mg daily. Clinico-radiological assessments were done prior to surgery using standard response assessment criteria.
Results: A total of 68 patients received POMT with a median age of 55 years (range: 34–73 years). Forty-eight (70%) were males, 29 (42%) had carcinoma tongue and majority (N = 52, 76%) had Stage IVA cancer. Mean duration of POMT administration was 30.45 days (standard deviation: 8.22). Thirty-seven (54%) patients had partial responses and another 23 (34%) had stable disease. Two (3%) had disease progression on POMT. Fifty-eight (85%) underwent surgery after POMT. Margin positive resection was seen in two patients. Half of the patients who received POMT did not experience any toxicity. Grade 3/4 toxicities were seen in four (6%) patients.
Conclusions: POMT is a feasible strategy worth considering in cases where there are prolonged waiting times to surgery.