, Volume 11, Issue 4, pp 317-326,
Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.
Date: 27 Nov 2012

Incidence and Risk of Severe Neutropenia in Advanced Cancer Patients Treated with Cetuximab


Background and Aim: Neutropenia is a serious adverse event for patients who are treated with cetuximab, an inhibitor of endothelial growth factor receptor. However, there is no consistent result of the relationship between cetuximab and neutropenia in randomized controlled trials (RCTs). We did a systematic review and meta-analysis of published RCTs to assess the overall risk of neutropenia associated with cetuximab.

Methods: PubMed, Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, EMBASE, and American Society of Clinical Oncology conferences were searched for relevant RCTs. Quantitative and qualitative analyses were carried out to evaluate the association between neutropenia and cetuximab. Both the fixed-effect model and random-effects model were used.

Results: A total of 7186 patients with a variety of advanced cancers from 14 trials were included in our analysis. The overall incidence of neutropenia in patients receiving cetuximab was 33% (95% CI 26, 43). Patients treated with cetuximab had a significantly increased risk of neutropenia compared with patients treated with control medication, with a relative risk (RR) of 1.12 (95% CI 1.05, 1.19; fixed-effect model). Risk varied with tumor type. Higher risks were observed in patients with colorectal carcinoma (RR 1.17; 95% CI 1.04, 1.32; fixed-effect model) and non-small cell lung cancer (RR 1.07; 95% CI 0.99, 1.16; fixed-effect model).

Conclusion: Cetuximab is associated with a significant risk of neutropenia in patients with advanced cancer receiving concurrent chemotherapy.