Lower platelet counts and antiplatelet therapy independently predict better outcomes in patients with head and neck squamous cell carcinoma: a retrospective analysis
© Furlan et al. 2015
Received: 27 July 2015
Accepted: 25 September 2015
Published: 6 October 2015
The paper by Rachidi et al. suggests that antiplatelet drugs may play a role in ameliorating the clinical outcome in a large series of patients with head and neck cancer managed with either surgery or radiation. Our data, as well as confirming the results observed by the authors, enhance their clinical relevance pointing out the effect of antiplatelet drugs in terms of locoregional control in the setting of patients with advanced head and neck cancer managed with definitive chemo-radiotherapy.
KeywordsHead and neck cancer Aspirin Antiplatelets Radiotherapy Coagulation Platelets Larynx Survival
Previous findings on patients with head and neck cancer exposed to antiplatelet drugs
We read with great interest the article by Rachidi et al. , which indicated that higher platelet count is associated with a worse survival in head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC). In the same cohort the use of antiplatelet medications was associated with a reduced risk of death.
The authors included patients with stage I–IV HNSCC, irrespective of treatment type (surgery, chemotherapy, or radiation).
Case series report
Baseline socio-demographic and clinical characteristics of 58 larynx-hypopharynx cancer patients, according to regular antiplatelets use
Fisher exact test
p = 0.43
p = 0.70
p = 0.01
p = 0.56
Platelet count at radiotherapy beginning (cells/μL)
p = 0.78
p = 0.01
Since antiplatelet treatment was significantly associated to age and tumor stage, subgroup analysis were also conducted. The same effect was observed both patients aged <65 year (3-year LRC was 80 % vs 40 % for those who were and were not taking antiplatelet drugs), and in the those aged ≥65 year (74 % vs 58 %, respectively), as well as in patients with stage III (75 % and 54 %, respectively) and stage IV cancer (74 % and 40 %, respectively).
Rachidi and colleagues  reported stronger effect of antiplatelet use on OS in patients with thrombocytosis. In our study, we also found a greater advantage from antiplatelet use among patients with platelet count >250.000/μL (Table 1) in both OS (3-year OS: 63 % vs 43 % in antiplatelet users and non users, p = 0.50) and LRC (3-year LRC : 71 % vs 18 %, p = 0.02).
Our results confirmed that the use of antiplatelet medications modify outcomes in patients with HNSCC. LRC is recognized as a surrogate endpoint of survival for patients with locally-advanced HNSCC , and our findings concerning LRC may be translated into survival at longer follow-up, confirming the results published in the paper. Moreover, these elements concerning the effects on LRC suggest that antiplatelet medications may have a role in enhancing the efficacy of radiation for HNSCC and indicate the strong need for a randomized clinical trial.
Head and neck squamous cell carcinoma
The authors thank Mrs. Silvia Cervo for the technical assistance.
The study is approved by the Internal Review Board of the Centro di Riferimento Oncologico (CRO) – Aviano, Italy.
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