Head and Neck Cancers Coverage from Every Angle

Adding Bevacizumab to Platinum-Based Chemotherapy in Head/Neck Squamous Cell Carcinoma

By: Lauren Harrison, MS
Posted: Monday, January 6, 2020

The addition of the VEGF monoclonal antibody bevacizumab to platinum-based chemotherapy appears to improve the response rate and progression-free survival in patients with squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck. Athanassios Argiris, MD, of Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia, published these results in the Journal of Clinical Oncology with colleagues.

This study recruited 403 patients with chemotherapy-naive recurrent or metastatic squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck. Patients who had received platinum therapy as a part of multimodal therapy were included in the study if the treatment had occurred at least 4 months prior. Patients were randomly assigned to receive a platinum-based chemotherapy doublet either with or without 15 mg/kg of intravenous bevacizumab every 3 weeks.

The median overall survival was 12.6 months in the group receiving bevacizumab plus chemotherapy and 11.0 months in the group receiving chemotherapy alone (P = .22). The overall survival rates for the bevacizumab group and the chemotherapy-alone group were 25.2% and 18.1% at 2 years, 16.4% and 10.0% at 3 years, and 11.8% and 6.5% at 4 years, respectively. The median progression-free survival was 6.0 months for the bevacizumab group, compared with 4.3 months for the chemotherapy-alone group. Overall response rates for the two treatment options were 35.5% with bevacizumab and chemotherapy and 24.5% with chemotherapy alone.

Increased toxicity was observed in the bevacizumab group, with a higher rate of treatment-related grade 3 to 5 bleeding events (6.7% vs. 0.5%). More treatment-related deaths were reported as well, with 9.3% occurring with bevacizumab and 3.5% with chemotherapy alone.

“We believe that the targeting of angiogenesis remains an attractive strategy, and further investigation of agents that target the VEGF pathway in [squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck] is justifiable,” the investigators concluded.

Disclosure: For full disclosures of the study authors, visit ascopubs.org.


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