Cetuximab: a standard approach to the first-line treatment of recurrent and/or metastatic and locally advanced squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck

  • Jacques Bernier | jbernier@genolier.net Department of Radiation Oncology, Genolier Swiss Medical Network, Genolie, Switzerland.

Abstract

The burden of squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck (SCCHN) on healthcare systems is expected to rise in line with projected increases in population sizes in general, and the relative proportion of elderly individuals in particular, underlining the need for effective, well tolerated treatment strategies. The epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR)-targeted IgG1 monoclonal antibody, cetuximab, is the only EGFR-targeted agent currently approved for use in the treatment of SCCHN. Adding cetuximab to standard first-line platinum-based chemotherapy in the treatment of recurrent and/or metastatic SCCHN significantly improved overall survival (hazard ratio [HR] 0.80; P = 0.04), progression-free survival (HR 0.54; P\0.001) and response rates (odds ratio 2.33; P\0.001), compared to platinum-based chemotherapy alone. This was the first time in 30 years that a significant increase in overall survival had been achieved over platinum- based therapy alone and established cetuximab plus platinum-based chemotherapy as the new standard first-line treatment approach for recurrent and/or metastatic disease. In locally advanced SCCHN, cetuximab plus radiotherapy significantly improved locoregional control (HR 0.68, P = 0.005) and overall survival (HR 0.74; P = 0.03) compared to radiotherapy alone. In both recurrent and/or metastatic disease and locally advanced disease, adding cetuximab to standard therapy was generally well tolerated and did not affect patients’ quality of life. The clinical benefits seen with the addition of cetuximab to standard chemotherapy or radiotherapy make it one of the most significant advances made in SCCHN treatment in recent years.

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Published
2011-12-14
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Section
Reviews
Keywords:
Cetuximab - Head and neck - Locally advanced - Recurrent and/or metastatic - Squamous cell carcinoma
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How to Cite
Bernier, J. (2011). Cetuximab: a standard approach to the first-line treatment of recurrent and/or metastatic and locally advanced squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck. Oncology Reviews, 3(4), 247-256. https://doi.org/10.4081/oncol.2009.100