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/m(2) and carboplatin (area under the curve = 2) with cetuximab 400 mg/m(2) in week 1 and then 250 mg/m(2) (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.
View details for DOI 10.1200/JCO.2009.23.0425
View details for Web of Science ID 000273103900004
View details for PubMedID 19917840