Conference Coverage

10-year data show no benefit when adding cetuximab to radiation and cisplatin



Late toxicity

Dr. Caudell noted that late toxicity was “substantial” in both treatment arms. Late toxicity was defined as adverse events occurring greater than 90 days from the start of radiotherapy.

The incidence of grade 3/4 late toxicity was 57.4% in the radiotherapy/cisplatin arm and 61.3% in the cetuximab arm (P = .26). The most common grade 3/4 late adverse event was dysphagia, occurring in 39.6% of patients in the radiotherapy/cisplatin arm and 38.2% of those in the cetuximab arm.

Other late grade 3/4 events (in the radiotherapy/cisplatin and cetuximab arms, respectively) included dry mouth (3% and 5%), radiation mucositis (5.3% and 7%), weight decrease (7.6% and 8.7%), hearing impairment (6% and 5%), pharynx mucositis/stomatitis (4.9% and 6%), and osteonecrosis (6% and 4.8%).

Feeding tube use was similar in both treatment arms over time. At 10 years, 14.3% of patients in the radiotherapy/cisplatin arm and 11% of those in the cetuximab arm used a feeding tube (P = .53).

“Despite the use of intensity-modulated radiotherapy, there was a high incidence of late grade 3 and higher toxicities, primarily related to dysphagia, which have substantial effects on the quality of life of our patients,” Dr. Sehgal noted. “These findings need to be considered carefully while designing future studies.

“Future directions for the management of locoregionally advanced head and neck cancer include evaluation of benefits from the addition of immune checkpoint inhibitors to cisplatin with concurrent radiation therapy (e.g., JAVELIN with avelumab [NCT01772004], KEYNOTE-412 with pembrolizumab [NCT03040999], and NCT03349710 with nivolumab) and whether immune checkpoint inhibitors can substitute for cisplatin in those being treated concurrently with radiation therapy (e.g., REACH trial comparing avelumab, cetuximab, and radiation therapy versus cisplatin plus radiation therapy [NCT02999087]).”

The current study was sponsored by the Radiation Therapy Oncology Group, the National Cancer Institute, NRG Oncology, and Eli Lilly. Dr. Caudell disclosed grants and fees from Varian Medical Systems. Dr. Sehgal had no conflicts of interest to disclose.

SOURCE: Caudell J et al. Head and Neck Cancers Symposium 2020, Abstract 6.


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