The benefit achieved by concurrent chemoradiotherapy (CCR) and sequential chemoradiotherapy (SCR) vs radiotherapy (RT) alone for patients with stage II–IVa nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC) was compared. A total of 113 patients with stage II–IV a NPC were allotted into CCR group (n=38), SCR group (n=36) and RT alone group (n=39). All patients were irradiated with the same RT technique to ≥66 Gy at 2 Gy per fraction, conventional 5 fractions/week in all groups. The CCR group received concurrent chemotherapy of weekly cisplatin for 7 weeks, and the SCR group received neoadjuvant and (or) adjuvant chemotherapy. The results showed that the 3- and 5-year overall survival rate was significantly higher in CCR group than in RT alone group (92.16% vs 61.54%, 81.58% vs 51.28%, P<0.005). The median survival time was significantly longer in CCR group than in RT alone group (67.8 months vs 52.7 months, P<0.005). It was concluded that CCR could significantly improve overall survival rate, progression-free survival rate, and median survival time when compared with RT alone.