Clinical and Translational Oncology

, Volume 19, Issue 6, pp 769–776

Activity of weekly paclitaxel−cetuximab chemotherapy in unselected patients with recurrent/metastatic head and neck squamous cell carcinoma: prognostic factors

  • I. Pajares Bernad
  • J. Martínez Trufero
  • L. Calera Urquizu
  • R. A. Pazo Cid
  • A. Cebollero de Miguel
  • M. J. Agustin
  • M. Lanzuela
  • A. Antón
Research Article

DOI: 10.1007/s12094-016-1604-z

Cite this article as:
Bernad, I.P., Trufero, J.M., Urquizu, L.C. et al. Clin Transl Oncol (2017) 19: 769. doi:10.1007/s12094-016-1604-z



Standard treatment for recurrent/metastatic head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (RM-SCCHN) is based in on platinum and cetuximab combination therapy. Unfortunately, not all patients are candidates to receive platinum-based treatment, because of different conditions as comorbidity and poor performance status. Weekly paclitaxel and cetuximab (WPC) is an active therapeutic alternative, based on a phase II study, with less toxicity. Our main objective is to confirm its activity in unselected patients, mostly unfit for aggressive therapies, analysing also some clinically relevant prognostic factors (PFs).


Retrospective data was collected for RM-SCCHN patients, treated at our institution between January 2008 and July 2014 with weekly paclitaxel (80 mg/m2) and cetuximab (400/250 mg/m2).


148 patients were treated. The objective response rate (OR) was as follows: 13 patients (8.78%) complete response (CR); 57 patients (38.51%) partial response (PR) and 30 patients (20.3%) stable disease (SD). Median overall survival (OS) was 10 months (95% CI 8.31–11.69) and median progression free survival (PFS) was 7 months (95% CI 5.88–8.12). Response to treatment showed independent prognosis relevance as PF in multivariate analysis for PFS and OS. Furthermore, decline in serum magnesium during the treatment was also an independent PF for OS.


WPC activity was confirmed as a useful therapy on real-life unselected RM-SCCHN patients, with similar benefit to that obtained in the phase II study, and comparable to platinum and cetuximab based treatment, confirming its value in unfit patients. In addition to treatment response, a change in serum magnesium values during treatment was proved as independent PF on OS.


Weekly paclitaxel cetuximab Head and neck squamous cell carcinoma Recurrent metastatic Prognostic factors Serum magnesium 

Copyright information

© Federación de Sociedades Españolas de Oncología (FESEO) 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Medical Oncology DepartmentMiguel Servet University HospitalSaragossaSpain
  2. 2.Pharmacy DepartmentMiguel Servet University HospitalSaragossaSpain
  3. 3.Radiotherapy DepartmentMiguel Servet University HospitalSaragossaSpain

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