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Individualized Treatment in Treating Patients with Stage II-IVB Nasopharyngeal Cancer Based on EBV DNA

Cancer Type
Head and Neck Cancer
Unknown Primary
Trial Phase
Phase II
Phase III
18 Years and older, Male and Female
Study Type
Protocol IDs
NRG-HN001 (primary)
Study Sponsor
NRG Oncology


There are two study questions we are asking in this randomized phase II/III trial based on a blood biomarker, Epstein Barr virus (EBV) deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) for locoregionally advanced non-metastatic nasopharyngeal cancer. All patients will first undergo standard concurrent chemotherapy and radiation therapy. When this standard treatment is completed, if there is no detectable EBV DNA in their plasma, then patients are randomized to either standard adjuvant cisplatin and fluorouracil chemotherapy or observation. If there is still detectable levels of plasma EBV DNA, patients will be randomized to standard cisplatin and fluorouracil chemotherapy versus gemcitabine and paclitaxel. Radiation therapy uses high energy x-rays to kill tumor cells and shrink tumors. Drugs used in chemotherapy, such as cisplatin, fluorouracil, gemcitabine hydrochloride, and paclitaxel work in different ways to stop the growth of tumor cells, either by killing the cells, by stopping them from dividing, or by stopping them from spreading. It is not yet known whether giving cisplatin and fluorouracil is more effective than gemcitabine hydrochloride and paclitaxel after radiation therapy in treating patients with nasopharyngeal cancer.


I. To determine whether substituting adjuvant concurrent high dose cisplatin (CDDP) and fluorouracil (5-FU) with gemcitabine (gemcitabine hydrochloride) and paclitaxel will result in superior progression-free survival. (Detectable Plasma Epstein Barr Virus [EBV] Deoxyribonucleic Acid [DNA] Cohort randomized Phase II)
II. To determine whether omitting adjuvant CDDP and 5-FU (observation alone in the adjuvant setting) will result in non-inferior overall survival as compared with those patients receiving adjuvant CDDP and 5-FU chemotherapy. (Undetectable Plasma EBV DNA Cohort Phase III)

I. Time to distant metastasis. (Randomized Phase II and Phase III)
II. Time to local progression. (Randomized Phase II and Phase III)
III. Time to regional progression. (Randomized Phase II and Phase III)
IV. Progression-free survival (Undetectable Cohort).
V. Overall survival (Detectable Cohort).
VI. Acute and late toxicity profiles based on clinician-reported Common Terminology Criteria for Adverse Events (CTCAE), version (v.) 4. (Randomized Phase II and Phase III)
VII. Death during or within 30 days of end of protocol treatment. (Randomized Phase II and Phase III)
VIII. Quality of life (general and physical well-being). (Randomized Phase II and Phase III)
IX. Quality of life (hearing). (Randomized Phase II and Phase III)
X. Quality of life (peripheral neuropathy). (Randomized Phase II and Phase III)
XI. Cost effectiveness. (Randomized Phase II and Phase III)

Patients undergo intensity modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) once daily (QD) 5 days a week for 6.5 to 7 weeks and receive low-dose cisplatin intravenously (IV) over 30-60 minutes or high-dose cisplatin IV over 3 hours once weekly during IMRT. Beginning 1 week after chemoradiation, plasma samples are collected for EBV DNA analysis.

PHASE II: Patients with detectable EBV DNA from pre-treatment analysis are randomized to 1 of 2 treatment arms.

ARM I: Patients receive PF regimen comprising cisplatin IV over 60-180 minutes and fluorouracil IV over 96 hours continuously beginning at least 4 weeks after completion of IMRT. Treatment repeats every 28 days for 3 courses in the absence of disease progression or unacceptable toxicity.

ARM II: Patients receive GT regimen comprising paclitaxel IV over 1 hour and gemcitabine hydrochloride IV over 30 minutes on days 1 and 8 at least 4 weeks after completion of IMRT. Treatment repeats every 21 days for 4 courses in the absence of disease progression or unacceptable toxicity.

Patients with undetectable EBV DNA from pre-treatment analysis are randomized to 1 of 2 treatment arms.

ARM III: Patients receive PF regimen as in Arm I.

ARM IV: Patients undergo clinical observation.

Patients undergo computed tomography (CT) scan, magnetic resonance imaging, (MRI) positron emission tomography (PET) scan, and bone scan throughout the study.


  1. Biopsy proven (from primary lesion and/or lymph nodes) diagnosis of cancer of the nasopharynx
  2. Sites are required to complete Step 1 registration before submitting specimens for EBV DNA analysis * Patients must have detectable pretreatment plasma EBV DNA, determined by the central lab prior to Step 2 registration * For patients who have detectable plasma EBV DNA tested at one of the credentialed central labs within 28 days prior to Step 1 registration: that test result can be used for eligibility without the need for re-testing; to use this test result for eligibility, the central lab must enter the test result through the pathology portal
  3. Stage II-IVB disease (American Joint Committee on Cancer [AJCC], 7th edition [ed.]) with no evidence of distant metastasis, based upon the following minimum diagnostic workup: * History/physical examination by a Medical Oncologist or Clinical Oncologist or Radiation Oncologist or Ear, Nose, Throat specialist (ENT), which must include an endoscopic evaluation, a complete list of current medications, and assessment of weight and weight loss in the past 6 months within 21 days prior to registration * Evaluation of tumor extent required within 28 days prior to registration: ** Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the nasopharynx and neck; or computed tomography (CT) of the nasopharynx and neck with =< 3 mm contiguous slices with contrast and bone windows (to evaluate base of skull involvement). *** Note: If a treatment planning CT scan is used, it must be with =< 3 mm contiguous slices with contrast and be read by a radiologist * To rule out distant metastasis, patients must undergo the following imaging within 28 days prior to registration: ** A CT scan with contrast of the chest and abdomen (required), and the pelvis (optional), or a total body PET/CT scan (non-contrast PET/CT is acceptable) ** A bone scan only when there is suspicion of bone metastases (a PET/CT scan can substitute for the bone scan)
  4. Zubrod performance status 0-1 within 21 days prior to registration
  5. Age >= 18
  6. Absolute neutrophil count (ANC) >= 1,500 cells/mm^3 (within 21 days prior to registration)
  7. Platelets >= 100,000 cells/mm^3 (within 21 days prior to registration)
  8. Hemoglobin >= 8.0 g/dl (within 21 days prior to registration) (Note: the use of transfusion or other intervention to achieve hemoglobin [Hgb] >= 8.0 g/dl is acceptable)
  9. Total bilirubin =< 1.5 x institutional upper limit of normal (ULN) (within 21 days prior to registration)
  10. Aspartate aminotransferase (AST) and alanine aminotransferase (ALT) =< 1.5 x institutional ULN (within 21 days prior to registration)
  11. Alkaline phosphatase =< 1.5 x institutional ULN (within 21 days prior to registration)
  12. Serum creatinine =< 1.5 mg/dl or calculated creatinine clearance (CC) >= 50 ml/min determined by 24-hour urine collection or estimated by Cockcroft-Gault formula (within 21 days prior to registration)
  13. Negative serum pregnancy test within 14 days prior to registration for women of childbearing potential
  14. Women of childbearing potential and male participants who are sexually active must agree to use a medically effective means of birth control throughout protocol treatment
  15. Patient must provide study specific informed consent prior to study entry, including the mandatory pre-treatment plasma EBV DNA assay

Treatment Sites in Georgia

Emory Saint Joseph's Hospital

5665 Peachtree Dunwoody Road NE
Atlanta, GA 30342

Emory University Hospital - Midtown

550 Peachtree Street NE
Atlanta, GA 30308

Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University

1365 Clifton Road NE
Building C
Atlanta, GA 30322

**Clinical trials are research studies that involve people. These studies test new ways to prevent, detect, diagnose, or treat diseases. People who take part in cancer clinical trials have an opportunity to contribute to scientists’ knowledge about cancer and to help in the development of improved cancer treatments. They also receive state-of-the-art care from cancer experts... Click here to learn more about clinical trials.