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Table 1 Current chemotherapeutic models in head and neck cancer

From: Curcumin: A review of anti-cancer properties and therapeutic activity in head and neck squamous cell carcinoma

Agent Mechanism Mode of Usage in HNSCC Significant Adverse Effects Reference
Platinum agents (Cisplatin/Carboplatin) Formation of DNA adducts, induction of apoptosis and senescence Cisplatin/Carboplatin single-agent Cisplatin/Carboplatin in combination with 5-Flurouracil Nephrotoxicity (acute renal failure, chronic renal insufficiency) Ototoxicity (high-frequency hearing loss) Neurotoxicity (peripheral neuropathy) Hematologic (myelosupression) Gastrointestinal (nausea, vomiting) Electrolyte disturbances (hypomagnesiumia/hypokalemia/ hypocalcemia) [812]
5-Flurouracil Anti-metabolite (pyrimidine analog, inhibits thymidylate synthase) 5-Flurouracil in combination with Cisplatin/Carboplatin, and with or without Paclitaxel Cardiac toxicity (angina, myocardial ischemia), Gastrointestinal (nausea, omiting, ulcers), Hematologic (myelosupression), Thrombophlebitis, Dermatologic (rash) [810]
Taxanes (Paclitaxel/Docetaxel) Anti-microtubular agent (inhibitor of mitosis) Paclitaxel in combination with Carboplatin/Cisplatin, and with or without 5-Fluoruracil Cardiovascular (hypotension, EKG changes) Gastrointestinal (mucositis, nausea, vomiting) Hematologic (neutropenia, leukopenia, thrombocytopenia), Neuromuscular (peripheral neuropathy, myalgias), Hepatic (elevated liver enzymes) [9, 10]
Cetuximab Anti-EGFR monoclonal antibody Cetuximab plus radiation therapy Single-agent cetuximab in platinum refractory HNSCC Phase I/II trial of cetuximab plus 5-FU and platinum agents (on going) Infusion reaction Dermatologic (acneform rash, pruritis) Gastrointestinal (abdominal pain, constipation, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting), Respiratory (dyspnea, cough), Neuromuscular weakness [1417, 202]