Open Access

Lower platelet counts and antiplatelet therapy independently predict better outcomes in patients with head and neck squamous cell carcinoma: a retrospective analysis

  • Carlo Furlan1Email author,
  • Agostino Steffan2,
  • Jerry Polesel3,
  • Marco Trovo1,
  • Carlo Gobitti1,
  • Emanuela Vaccher1,
  • Diego Serraino3,
  • Luigi Barzan4 and
  • Giovanni Franchin1
Biomarker Research20153:25

DOI: 10.1186/s40364-015-0051-2

Received: 27 July 2015

Accepted: 25 September 2015

Published: 6 October 2015

Abstract

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.

Keywords

Head 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. [1], 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

We retrospectively reviewed a cohort of 58 consecutive patients with stage III-IV larynx-hypopharynx cancer managed with definitive chemoradiotehrapy at the Centro di Riferimento Oncologico of Aviano, Italy, between 2008 and 2012 (patients characteristics by use of antiplatelet drugs are shown in Table 1). Kaplan-Meier analysis confirmed a survival advantage in patients who were administered with antiplatelet medications, although not significant because of small sample size. At a median follow-up of 31 months, the 3-year survival of patients who were taking antiplatelet drugs (20 patients) was 69 % vs 54 % for those who were not taking (p = 0.12). Interestingly, our data also showed a significant difference in locoregional control (LRC) between patients who were and were not taking antiplatelet medications during radiotherapy (3-year LRC resulted 76 % and 45 %, respectively, p = 0.01 - Fig. 1).
Table 1

Baseline socio-demographic and clinical characteristics of 58 larynx-hypopharynx cancer patients, according to regular antiplatelets use

 

Non-Antiplatelets users

Antiplatelets users

Fisher exact test

 

N

(%)

n

(%)

Sex

 Men

34

(89.5)

16

(80.0)

p = 0.43

 Women

4

(10.5)

4

(20.0)

 

Age (years)

 <65

28

(73.7)

5

(25.0)

p <0.01

 ≥65

10

(26.3)

15

(75.0)

 

Tobacco smoking

 Never

5

(13.2)

4

(20.0)

p = 0.70

 Ever

33

(86.8)

16

(80.0)

 

T status

 T2–T3

27

(71.0)

20

(100.0)

p = 0.01

 T4

11

(29.0)

0

(0.0)

 

N status

 N0

11

(29.0)

8

(40.0)

p = 0.56

 N1–N3

27

(71.0)

12

(60.0)

 

Stage

 III

13

(34.2)

15

(75.0)

p <0.01

 IV

25

(65.8)

5

(25.0)

 

Platelet count at radiotherapy beginning (cells/μL)

 <250.000

19

(51.3)

11

(57.9)

p = 0.78

 ≥250.000

18

(48.7)

8

(42.1)

 

Locoregional recurrence

 No

17

(44.7)

16

(80.0)

p = 0.01

 Yes

21

(55.3)

4

(20.0)

 
https://static-content.springer.com/image/art%3A10.1186%2Fs40364-015-0051-2/MediaObjects/40364_2015_51_Fig1_HTML.gif
Fig. 1

Locoregional control of 58 advanced larynx-hypopharynx cancer patients by use of antiplatelet drugs

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 [1] 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).

Comment

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 [2], 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.

Abbreviations

HNCSS: 

Head and neck squamous cell carcinoma

LRC: 

Locoregional control

Declarations

Acknowledgements

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.

Open AccessThis article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver (http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/) applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.

Authors’ Affiliations

(1)
Department of Radiation Oncology, Centro di Riferimento Oncologico (CRO) National Cancer Institute
(2)
Department of Clinical Pathology, Centro di Riferimento Oncologico (CRO) National Cancer Institute
(3)
Department of Statistics and Epidemiology, Centro di Riferimento Oncologico (CRO) National Cancer Institute
(4)
Department of Surgery, Centro di Riferimento Oncologico (CRO) National Cancer Institute

References

  1. Rachidi S, Wallace K, Day TA, Alberg AJ, Li Z. Lower circulating platelet counts and antiplatelet therapy independently predict better outcomes isn patients with head and neck squamous cell carcinoma. J Hematol Oncol. 2014;7:65.PubMed CentralView ArticlePubMedGoogle Scholar
  2. Michiels S, Le Maître A, Buyse M, Burzykowski T, Maillard E, Bogaerts J, et al. Surrogate endpoints for overall survival in locally advanced head and neck cancer: meta-analyses of individual patient data. Lancet Oncol. 2009;10(4):341–50.View ArticlePubMedGoogle Scholar

Copyright

© Furlan et al. 2015