Purpose: Cetuximab is a chimeric monoclonal antibody that targets the epidermal growth factor receptor. Cetuximab has activity in squamous cell carcinoma and enhances both chemotherapy and radiotherapy. We conducted a pilot phase II study of a new combined-modality paradigm of targeted therapy (cetuximab) with chemoradiotherapy. Patients and Methods: Eligible patients had stage III or IV, M0, squamous cell head and neck cancer. Treatment included concomitant boost radiotherapy (1.8 Gy/d weeks 1 to 6; boost: 1.6 Gy 4 to 6 hours later weeks 5 to 6; 70 Gy total to gross disease), cisplatin (100 mg/m2 intravenously weeks 1 and 4), and cetuximab (400 mg/m 2 intravenously week 1, followed by 250 mg/m2 weeks 2 to 10). Results: Twenty-two patients were enrolled (median age, 57 years; range, 41 to 72 years; median Karnofsky status, 90%; range, 70% to 90%; oropharynx primary tumor, 59% of patients; T4, 36%; N2/3, 77%; stage IV disease, 86%). One patient did not receive study treatment because of an ineligible diagnosis. The severity of expected, acute toxicities was typical of concurrent cisplatin and radiotherapy alone. Grade 3 or 4 cetuximab-related toxicities included acne-like rash (10%) and hypersensitivity (5%). However, the study was closed for significant adverse events, including two deaths (one pneumonia and one unknown cause), one myocardial infarction, one bacteremia, and one atrial fibrillation. With a median follow-up of 52 months, the 3-year overall survival rate is 76%, the 3-year progression-free survival rate is 56%, and the 3-year locoregional control rate is 71%. Conclusion: This regimen is not currently recommended outside of the clinical trial setting. Further investigation of its safety profile is needed. However, preliminary efficacy is encouraging, and further development of this targeted combined-modality paradigm is warranted.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cancer Research