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      The contribution of cetuximab in the treatment of recurrent and/or metastatic head and neck cancer

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          Abstract

          Recurrent and/or metastatic squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck (HNSCC) continues to be a source of significant morbidity and mortality worldwide. Agents that target the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) have demonstrated beneficial effects in this setting. Cetuximab, a monoclonal antibody against the EGFR, improves locoregional control and overall survival when used as a radiation sensitizer in patients with locoregionally advanced HNSCC undergoing definitive radiation therapy with curative intent. Cetuximab is also active as monotherapy in patients whose cancer has progressed on platinum-containing therapy. In the first-line setting for incurable HNSCC, cetuximab added to platinum-based chemotherapy significantly improves overall survival compared with standard chemotherapy alone. These positive results have had a significant impact on the standard of care for advanced HNSCC. In this review, we will discuss the mechanism of action, clinical data and common toxicities that pertain to the use of cetuximab in the treatment of advanced incurable HNSCC.

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          Most cited references 68

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          EGF receptor gene mutations are common in lung cancers from "never smokers" and are associated with sensitivity of tumors to gefitinib and erlotinib.

           W Pao,  V. Miller,  M Zakowski (2004)
          Somatic mutations in the tyrosine kinase (TK) domain of the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) gene are reportedly associated with sensitivity of lung cancers to gefitinib (Iressa), kinase inhibitor. In-frame deletions occur in exon 19, whereas point mutations occur frequently in codon 858 (exon 21). We found from sequencing the EGFR TK domain that 7 of 10 gefitinib-sensitive tumors had similar types of alterations; no mutations were found in eight gefitinib-refractory tumors (P = 0.004). Five of seven tumors sensitive to erlotinib (Tarceva), a related kinase inhibitor for which the clinically relevant target is undocumented, had analogous somatic mutations, as opposed to none of 10 erlotinib-refractory tumors (P = 0.003). Because most mutation-positive tumors were adenocarcinomas from patients who smoked <100 cigarettes in a lifetime ("never smokers"), we screened EGFR exons 2-28 in 15 adenocarcinomas resected from untreated never smokers. Seven tumors had TK domain mutations, in contrast to 4 of 81 non-small cell lung cancers resected from untreated former or current smokers (P = 0.0001). Immunoblotting of lysates from cells transiently transfected with various EGFR constructs demonstrated that, compared to wild-type protein, an exon 19 deletion mutant induced diminished levels of phosphotyrosine, whereas the phosphorylation at tyrosine 1092 of an exon 21 point mutant was inhibited at 10-fold lower concentrations of drug. Collectively, these data show that adenocarcinomas from never smokers comprise a distinct subset of lung cancers, frequently containing mutations within the TK domain of EGFR that are associated with gefitinib and erlotinib sensitivity.
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            Cancer statistics, 2007.

            Each year, the American Cancer Society (ACS) estimates the number of new cancer cases and deaths expected in the United States in the current year and compiles the most recent data on cancer incidence, mortality, and survival based on incidence data from the National Cancer Institute, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the North American Association of Central Cancer Registries and mortality data from the National Center for Health Statistics. This report considers incidence data through 2003 and mortality data through 2004. Incidence and death rates are age-standardized to the 2000 US standard million population. A total of 1,444,920 new cancer cases and 559,650 deaths for cancers are projected to occur in the United States in 2007. Notable trends in cancer incidence and mortality rates include stabilization of the age-standardized, delay-adjusted incidence rates for all cancers combined in men from 1995 through 2003; a continuing increase in the incidence rate by 0.3% per year in women; and a 13.6% total decrease in age-standardized cancer death rates among men and women combined between 1991 and 2004. This report also examines cancer incidence, mortality, and survival by site, sex, race/ethnicity, geographic area, and calendar year, as well as the proportionate contribution of selected sites to the overall trends. While the absolute number of cancer deaths decreased for the second consecutive year in the United States (by more than 3,000 from 2003 to 2004) and much progress has been made in reducing mortality rates and improving survival, cancer still accounts for more deaths than heart disease in persons under age 85 years. Further progress can be accelerated by supporting new discoveries and by applying existing cancer control knowledge across all segments of the population.
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              Impact of epidermal growth factor receptor expression on survival and pattern of relapse in patients with advanced head and neck carcinoma.

              A correlative study was performed to address the impact of epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) overexpression on survival and pattern of failure in patients with advanced head and neck squamous cell carcinomas (HNSCCs) enrolled in a Phase III trial and randomized to receive conventional radiotherapy. The study population comprised 155 of 268 (58%) randomized patients with sufficient pretreatment biopsy specimens for immunohistochemical assay. The specimens were dewaxed and incubated after standard preparation with mouse monoclonal antibodies recognizing the extracellular domain of the EGFR molecule. The catalyzed product was visualized with 3,3'-diaminobenzidine Chromogen Kit and lightly counterstained with Mayer's hematoxylin. Quantitative EGFR immunohistochemistry (IHC) was done with SAMBA 4000 Cell Image Analysis System, without knowledge of the clinical outcome, to yield mean absorbance (MOD), staining index (SI), and quick score (QS). These EGFR IHC parameters were correlated with the T stage, N stage, combined stage grouping, and recursive partitioning analysis classes. Subsequently, the EGFR parameters were correlated with the outcome end points, i.e., overall survival (OS), disease-free survival (DFS), local-regional (LR) relapse, and distant metastasis rates. We found that HNSCCs exhibited a wide variation in EGFR expression (MOD, 0.2-66.0; SI, 0.3-97.0; QS, 0.01-69.9) with a relatively strong but nonlinear correlation between MOD and SI (r = 0.79). There was no correlation between EGFR expression and T stage, N stage, stage grouping, and recursive partitioning analysis classes (r = -0.07 to 0.17). The OS and DFS rates of patients with high EGFR-expressing HNSCCs (>median MOD) were highly significantly lower (P = 0.0006 and P = 0.0016, respectively) and the LR relapse rate was highly significantly higher (P = 0.0031) compared with those of patients with low EGFR-expressing HNSCCs. However, there was no difference in the distant metastasis rate between the two groups (P = 0.96). Significant correlations, although somewhat less robust than MOD, were also observed between SI and QS and the OS, DFS, and LR relapse rates. Multivariate analysis showed that EGFR expression was an independent determinant of survival and a robust independent predictor of LR relapse. In summary, this correlative study in a large series of patients revealed that EGFR expression, which varied considerably among HNSCCs, was a strong independent prognostic indicator for OS and DFS and a robust predictor for LR relapse but not for distant metastasis. The data suggest that EGFR IHC should be considered for selecting patients for more aggressive combined therapies or enrollment into trials targeting EGFR signaling pathways.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Biologics
                Biologics: Targets & Therapy
                Biologics : Targets & Therapy
                Dove Medical Press
                1177-5475
                1177-5491
                2010
                2010
                9 August 2010
                : 4
                : 173-185
                Affiliations
                Department of Medical Oncology, Fox Chase Cancer Center, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA
                Author notes
                Correspondence: Ranee Mehra, 333 Cottman Ave., Philadelphia, PA 19111, USA, Tel +1 215-214-4297, Fax +1 215-728-3639, Email ranee.mehra@ 123456fccc.edu
                Article
                btt-4-173
                2921255
                20714355
                © 2010 Tejani et al, publisher and licensee Dove Medical Press Ltd.

                This is an Open Access article which permits unrestricted noncommercial use, provided the original work is properly cited.

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