To assess the effect on progression-free and overall survival from the addition of cetuximab to paclitaxel-based chemoradiation for patients with squamous cell head and neck cancer from Brown University Oncology Group studies.
BrUOG HN-204 patients with stage III or IV locally advanced squamous cell cancer of the head and neck without distant organ metastases received 4 weeks of induction cetuximab followed by weekly cetuximab, paclitaxel, carboplatin, and concurrent radiation. Recurrence and survival data were compared with previous Brown University studies utilizing the same paclitaxel-based chemoradiation with and without induction chemotherapy.
The progression-free survival and overall survival at 3 years for all 37 patients initiating chemoradiation was 54% and 57%, respectively. All surviving patients were followed for at least 3 years and the median follow-up is 4.4 years. Of 14 patients who recurred within 3 years, 7 patients recurred locally only, 5 had a systemic recurrence, and 2 recurred both locally and systemically.
The addition of cetuximab to paclitaxel, carboplatin, and radiation achieves overall survival that is virtually identical to prior Brown University Oncology Group studies of paclitaxel-based chemoradiation without cetuximab. Improvements in locoregional control are needed despite the use of 3 agents to enhance the effects of radiation.