Induction chemotherapy and cetuximab for locally advanced squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck: Results from a phase II prospective trial

Merrill S. Kies, Floyd Christopher Holsinger, J. Jack Lee, William N. William, Bonnie S. Glisson, Heather Y. Lin, Jan S. Lewin, Lawrence E. Ginsberg, Katharine A. Gillaspy, Erminia Massarelli, Lauren Byers, Scott M. Lippman, Waun K. Hong, Adel K. El-Naggar, Adam S. Garden, Vassiliki Papadimitrakopoulou

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Purpose: To determine the potential efficacy of combining cetuximab with chemotherapy in patients with advanced nodal disease, we conducted a phase II trial with induction chemotherapy (ICT) consisting of six weekly cycles of paclitaxel 135 mg/m2 and carboplatin (area under the curve = 2) with cetuximab 400 mg/m2 in week 1 and then 250 mg/m2 (PCC). Patients and Methods: Forty-seven previously untreated patients (41 with oropharynx primaries; 33 men, 14 women; median age, 53 years; performance status of 0 or 1) with squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck (SCCHN; T1-4, N2b/c/3) were treated and evaluated for clinical and radiographic response. After ICT, patients underwent risk-based local therapy, which consisted of either radiation, concomitant chemoradiotherapy, or surgery, based on tumor stage and site at diagnosis. Results: After induction PCC, nine patients (19%) achieved a complete response, and 36 patients (77%) achieved a partial response. The most common grade 3 or 4 toxicity was skin rash (45%), followed by neutropenia (21%) without fever. At a median follow-up time of 33 months, locoregional or systemic disease progression was observed in six patients. The 3-year progression-free survival (PFS) and overall survival (OS) rates were 87% (95% CI, 78% to 97%) and 91% (95% CI, 84% to 99%), respectively. Human papillomavirus (HPV) 16, found in 12 (46%) of 26 biopsies, was associated with improved PFS (P = .012) and OS (P = .046). Conclusion: ICT with weekly PCC followed by risk-based local therapy seems to be feasible, effective, and well tolerated. PFS is promising, and this sequential treatment strategy should be further investigated. Patients with HPV-positive tumors have an excellent prognosis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)8-14
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Clinical Oncology
Volume28
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2010
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research

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