EGFr inhibitor toxicity| Volume 90, ISSUE 2, P172-176, February 2009

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Enhanced toxicity with concurrent cetuximab and radiotherapy in head and neck cancer

Published:October 31, 2008DOI:



      To report toxicity data from the first 13 consecutive patients with locally advanced head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (LAHNSCC), ineligible for cisplatin, treated with concurrent cetuximab and radiotherapy (RT) at our institution.

      Materials and methods

      Data were collected prospectively between August 2007 and May 2008. Planned treatment consisted of a cetuximab loading dose (400 mg/m2) via intravenous infusion 1 week prior and then weekly (250 mg/m2) with 70 Gy in 35 daily fractions over 7 weeks.


      Median age was 68 years (range 52–82 years). The predominant primary sites were hypopharyngeal (5) and oropharyngeal (5). Ineligibility for cisplatin consisted of renal impairment (5), hearing impairment (4) and of other major co-morbidities (4). Of the 13 patients, 10 (77%) had grade 3/4 skin reactions and 10 (77%) grade 3/4 mucositis. Six (46%) patients required admission for management of severe skin reactions and/or mucositis with 4 (31%) requiring a treatment break, median 10 days (9-15days). Only 4 (31%) patients managed to complete the planned 8 cycles of cetuximab. Of the 9 patients with 12-week post-therapy data, 7 (78%) achieved a complete response.


      Our early experience with cetuximab/RT has demonstrated a higher rate of toxicity compared with the recently reported randomised trial, resulting in low treatment compliance and delays in completing RT.


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