Head and Neck Cancers Coverage from Every Angle
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Adding Nimotuzumab to Chemoradiotherapy in Locally Advanced Head and Neck Cancer

By: Sarah Campen, PharmD
Posted: Wednesday, August 28, 2019

The addition of nimotuzumab to a combination of radical radiotherapy with concurrent weekly cisplatin appears to prolong progression-free survival in patients with locally advanced head and neck squamous cell carcinoma compared with radiotherapy plus weekly cisplatin alone. According to a phase III trial published in Cancer, adding the humanized monoclonal antibody directed against EGFR also significantly improved disease-free survival and the duration of locoregional tumor control.

“This combination provides a novel alternative therapeutic option to a 3-weekly schedule of 100 mg/m2 cisplatin in patients with locally advanced head and neck cancer who are treated with radical-intent [radiotherapy with concurrent weekly cisplatin],” stated Vijay Maruti Patil, MD, of Tata Memorial Hospital, Homi Bhabha National Institute, Mumbai, India, and colleagues.

In this open-label study, 536 patients were randomly assigned to receive either radical radiotherapy (66–70 Gy) with concurrent weekly cisplatin (30 mg/m2) or the same regimen plus weekly nimotuzumab (200 mg). Patients were followed for a median of 39.13 months.

The addition of nimotuzumab significantly improved 2-year progression-free survival (61.8% vs. 50.1%; P = .004). The nimotuzumab arm also had a 33% reduction (P = .006) in the risk of locoregional failure and an improvement in 2-year disease-free survival (60.2% vs. 48.5%). Although there was a trend toward improving overall survival (63.8% vs.57.7%), the difference was not statistically significant. As for safety, grade 3 to 5 adverse events were similar between the two arms, although a higher incidence of mucositis was observed with nimotuzumab.

Disclosure: The study authors’ disclosure information may be found at onlinelibrary.wiley.com.

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