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Between January 1988 and June 1992, 20 patients with unresectable malignant tumors at the skull base were treated. Eleven had T4 lesions of the paranasal sinus/cavity complex, and 9 had T4 nasopharynx cancer. All patients had stage IV disease by the American Joint Committee on Staging Criteria. The histology was squamous cell cancer in 15 patients and other minor salivary gland histologies in 5. There was brain and/or dural invasion in 11 patients and orbital invasion in 9. All patients received radiation therapy with accelerated fractionation to a total of 70 Gy in 6 weeks. Concomitant cisplatin (100 mg/m2) was given on days 1 and 22 of radiation. Seven patients received mitomycin C (7.5 mg/m2) on days 1 and 22, plus adjuvant chemotherapy with cisplatin and vinblastine. Median follow-up was 11 (range: 1 to 43) months. At 2 years, local progression-free survival was 94%, distant metastases-free survival was 57%, and overall survival was 80%. Complications occurred in 20% and caused the death of 1 patient. Treatment of this group of patients with aggressive chemotherapy and radiation therapy produced excellent local control in our early experience, but longer follow-up is needed. There is a high rate of distant failure. Future strategies are outlined.