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Taxol and Erbitux for Head and Neck Cancer

Posted Jul 17 2010 7:35pm

L. Licitra, P. Bossi, L. D. Locati, and C. Bergamini
Is Restoring Platinum Sensitivity the Best Goal for Cetuximab in Recurrent/Metastatic Nasopharyngeal Cancer?
J. Clin. Oncol., October 20, 2005; 23(30): 7757 - 7758.

JJ Cruz, A Ocaña, E Del Barco and A Pandiella Targeting receptor tyrosine kinases and their signal transduction routes in head and neck cancer
Annals of Oncology 2007 18(3):421-430;

For the treatment of recurrent and/or metastatic head and neck cancer, therapeutic options include re-irradiation and salvage surgery and chemotherapy, with best supportive care for patients unable or unwilling to undergo treatment. Palliative chemotherapy has demonstrated survival advantages over best supportive care, and the most commonly used agents are cisplatin and carboplatin, generally in combination regimens with infusional fluorouracyl or a taxane. This patient cannot tolerate cisplatin. The question therefore relates to the addtion of Erbitux to an otherwise standard of care regimen.

There is sginificant body of literature about Taxol, platin drug and cetuximab. In regard to Taxol/platin + cetuximab: A phase II trial evaluating this induction chemotherapy plus cetuximab (Erbitux) resulted in a 100% overall response rate among patients with head and neck cancer. These results were presented at the 42nd annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO).The trial known as Erbitux in First-Line Treatment of Recurrent or Metastatic Head and Neck Cancer (EXTREME), involved 442 patients. About a third had cancer in the oral cavity or hypopharynx, nearly half had metastases, and most patients had already received treatment with radiotherapy (77% – 80%) and chemotherapy (36% – 41%). In this trial, all patients were treated with a chemotherapy regimen containing either carboplatin (in about a third of patients) or cisplatin plus 5-fluorouracil, and 1 group of patients also received cetuximab (400 mg/m2 as an initial dose, followed by 250 mg/m2 weekly).

Regarding Taxol and cetuximab without platin, a phase II study of cetuximab alone in 103 patients was the first to demonstrate clinical efficacy of a monoclonal antibody as monotherapy in patients with recurrent and/or metastatic SCCHN progressing on chemotherapy. Cetuximab monotherapy led to a response rate of 13%, a disease control rate of 46% and a median overall survival of 5.84 months. Cetuximab has also been shown be active in combination with paclitaxel in the first-line setting. In a phase II study in 42 patients, treatment with once weekly paclitaxel 80 mg/m2 plus cetuximab led to an overall response rate of 60% and a disease control rate of 88%. The median PFS was 5 months, which correlates with that reported with cetuximab plus cisplatin in the study by Burtness et al. At a median follow-up of 5.6 months, the median overall survival had not been reached.nccn.org, head and neck

Vermorken JB et al. (2007) Open-label, uncontrolled, multicenter phase II study to evaluate the efficacy and toxicity of cetuximab as a single agent in patients with recurrent and/or metastatic squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck who failed to respond to platinum-based therapy. J Clin Oncol 25: 2171-2177

Kies M, Garden A, Holsinger C, et al. Induction Chemotherapy (CT) with Weekly Paclitaxel, Carboplatin, and Cetuximab for Squamous Cell Carcinoma of the Head and Neck (HN). Proceedings from the 42nd annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology. Atlanta, Ga. June 2006. Abstract # 5520.

Hitt R et al. (2007) Phase II study of combination cetuximab and weekly paclitaxel in patients with metastatic/recurrent squamous cell carcinoma of head and neck (SCCHN): Spanish Head and Neck Cancer Group (TTCC) [abstract #6012]. J Clin Oncol 25 (18S)

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