Central European Journal of Medicine

, Volume 9, Issue 2, pp 279–284 | Cite as

Cetuximab/cisplatin and radiotherapy in HNSCC: is there a favorite choice?

  • Jacopo Giuliani
  • Marina Marzola
Rapid Communication



In the absence of a published head-to-head trial between concomitant cisplatin-radiotherapy vs cetuximab-radiotherapy, we compared results of cetuximab vs cisplatin in unresectable HNSCC in our daily clinical practice.

Materials and methods

We retrospectively analyzed all consecutive patients with unresectable HNSCC treated at Clinical Oncology Unit of the University Hospital of Ferrara (Italy) from October 2008 to February 2010.


We evaluated 21 patients: at last follow-up, 6 patients (28.6%) were deceased, 15 patients (71.4%) were alive and, among these, 13 (61.9%) were alive without evidence of disease (NED). Median follow-up time was 9.74 months. Median OS was 10.95 months. General characteristics were similar in the two subgroups, except for median age (low in cisplatin-subgroup: 55 vs 72) and the type of response (with a high numbers of complete response in cisplatin-subgroup). By the univariate analysis there was no statistical significance difference in OS (p= 0.898) between the two subgroups.


Based on state-of-the-art, it was not possible to identify either treatment regimen is as superior in prolonging either locoregional control or OS: our results seem to indicate that the two treatments may be equally efficacious and deferring the choice of treatment on the toxicity profile. Head-to-head trials are needed.


Cetuximab Head and neck cancer Cisplatin Concomitant radiotherapy 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. [1]
    Jemal A, Siegel R, Xu J, Ward E. Cancer statistics, 2010. CA Cancer J Clin. 2010;60:277–300PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. [2]
    Cooper JS, Pajak TF, Forastiere AA, et al. Postoperative concurrent radiotherapy and chemotherapy for high-risk squamous-cell carcinoma of the head and neck. N Engl J Med. 2004;350:1937–1944PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. [3]
    Bernier J, Cooper JS. Chemoradiation after surgery for high-risk head and neck cancer patients: how strong is the evidence? Oncologist. 2005;10:215–224PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. [4]
    Forastiere AA, Goepfert H, Maor M, et al. Concurrent chemotherapy and radiotherapy for organ preservation in advanced laryngeal cancer. N Engl J Med. 2003;349:2091–2098PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. [5]
    Licitra L, Felip E; ESMO Guidelines Working Group. Squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck: ESMO clinical recommendations for diagnosis, treatment and follow-up. Ann Oncol. 2009;20:121–122PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. [6]
    Bonner JA, Harari PM, Giralt J, et al. Radiotherapy plus cetuximab for locoregionally advanced head and neck cancer: 5-year survival data from a phase 3 randomised trial, and relation between cetuximab-induced rash and survival. Lancet Oncol. 2010;11:21–28PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. [7]
    Frampton JE. Cetuximab: a review of its use in squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck. Drugs. 2010;70:1987–2010PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. [8]
    Forastiere AA. Chemotherapy in the treatment of locally advanced head and neck cancer. J Surg Oncol. 2008;97:701–707PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. [9]
    Pignon JP, le Maítre A, Maillard E, Bourhis J; MACH-NC Collaborative Group. Meta-analysis of chemotherapy in head and neck cancer (MACHNC): an update on 93 randomised trials and 17,346 patients. Radiother Oncol. 2009;92:4–14PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. [10]
    Levy AR, Johnston KM, Sambrook J, et al. Indirect comparison of the efficacy of cetuximab and cisplatin in squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck. Curr Med Res Opin 2011;27:2253–2259PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. [11]
    Vermorken JB, Mesia R, Rivera F, et al. Platinumbased chemotherapy plus cetuximab in head and neck cancer. N Engl J Med 2008;359:1116–1127PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. [12]
    Vermorken JB, Trigo J, Hitt R, et al. Open-label, uncontrolled, multicenter phase II study to evaluate the efficacy and toxicity of cetuximab as a single agent in patients with recurrent and/or metastatic squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck who failed to respond to platinum-based therapy. J Clin Oncol. 2007;25:2171–2177PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. [13]
    Pfister DG, Su YB, Kraus DH, et al. Concurrent cetuximab, cisplatin, and concomitant boost radiotherapy for locoregionally advanced, squamous cell head and neck cancer: a pilot phase II study of a new combined-modality paradigm. J Clin Oncol 2006;24:1072–1078PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. [14]
    Kabolizadeh P, Kubicek GJ, Heron DE, Ferris RL, Gibson MK. The role of cetuximab in the management of head and neck cancers. Expert Opin Biol Ther 2012;12:517–528PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Versita Warsaw and Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Palliative Care UnitMater Salutis Hospital, ULSS 21Legnago VeronaItaly
  2. 2.Clinical Oncology Unit — St. Anna University-HospitalFerraraItaly

Personalised recommendations