Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Induction Cetuximab, Paclitaxel and Carboplatin in H&N cancers

JCO this week: MD Anderson reports the results of a Phase II combining cetuximab, paclitaxel and carboplatin before definitive surgery, radiation or chemoradiation. Interesting results, but obviously the overall question of whether induction is the best approach remains up in the air. Abstract and link:

Induction Chemotherapy and Cetuximab for Locally Advanced Squamous Cell Carcinoma of the Head and Neck: Results From a Phase II Prospective Trial [Head and Neck Cancer]: "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.


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).


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."

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