Overview of the efficacy of cetuximab in recurrent and/or metastatic squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck in patients who previously failed platinum-based therapies

Authors

  • Jan. B. Vermorken MD, PhD,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Medical Oncology, University Hospital Antwerp, Edegem, Belgium
    • Department of Medical Oncology, University Hospital Antwerpen, Wilrijkstraat 10, B-2650 Edegem, Belgium
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    • Fax: (011) 32 3 825 05 64

    • Jan B. Vermorken is on the advisory boards of Merck-Serono, Amgen, Sanofi-Aventis, and Oxigene.

  • Roy S. Herbst MD, PhD,

    1. Thoracic Head and Neck Medical Clinic, The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, Texas
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    • Roy S. Herbat is a consultant to and has received research funds from Imclone and BMS.

  • Xavier Leon MD, PhD,

    1. Department of Otolaryngology, Hospital de la Sant Creu I de Sant Pau, Barcelona, Spain
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  • Nadia Amellal MD,

    1. Merck KGaA, Paris, France
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    • Nadia Amellal is an employee of Merck.

  • Jose Baselga MD

    1. Oncology Service, Vall d'Hebron University Hospital, Barcelona, Spain
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    • Jose Baselga has received research funds from Glaxo-Smith-Kline and is a consultant for Exelixis.


  • Presented as Abstract 5505 at the 42nd Annual Meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology, Orlando, Florida, May 13–17, 2005.

Abstract

BACKGROUND.

The epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) inhibitor cetuximab is active in recurrent and/or metastatic squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck (SCCHN). The activity of cetuximab was compared with that of commonly used treatments in this setting.

METHODS.

All patients had recurrent and/or metastatic SCCHN and had progressed on cisplatin- or carboplatin-based chemotherapy. Efficacy data from 3 prospective studies (n = 278 patients) that administered cetuximab as a single agent (n = 103 patients) or combined with either cisplatin/carboplatin (n = 96 patients) or cisplatin (n = 79 patients) were compared with the results from a retrospective study of patients who received various second-line treatments (all treatments including best supportive care only, n = 151 patients; chemotherapy, n = 43 patients). Safety data considered were only those from the cetuximab studies.

RESULTS.

Over the 3 cetuximab trials, overall response rates from 10% to 13% and disease control rates from 46% to 56% were observed. The median time to disease progression ranged between 2.2 months and 2.8 months, and the median overall survival ranged between 5.2 months and 6.1 months. No patients who progressed on cetuximab alone responded to additional platinum. These survival data compared favorably with those from the retrospective study (median survival, 3.4 months [n = 151 patients] and 3.6 months [n = 43 patients]). Cetuximab-based treatments generally were tolerated well, and cetuximab did not increase the side effects associated with platinum therapy.

CONCLUSIONS.

Cetuximab has the potential to prolong survival in patients with recurrent and/or metastatic SCCHN who fail on platinum therapy compared with various second-line therapies. Cetuximab did not increase the toxicities associated with chemotherapy. The results obtained by treatment with cetuximab alone after platinum failure did not appear to differ from the results obtained by reintroducing platinum in combination with cetuximab. Cancer 2008. © 2008 American Cancer Society.

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