Cetuximab as second-line therapy in patients with metastatic esophageal adenocarcinoma: a phase II Southwest Oncology Group Study (S0415)

J Thorac Oncol. 2010 Sep;5(9):1472-6. doi: 10.1097/JTO.0b013e3181e77a92.


Introduction: Esophageal adenocarcinomas commonly express the epidermal growth factor receptor. This trial assessed the 6-month overall survival probability in metastatic esophageal cancer patients treated with cetuximab as second-line therapy.

Methods: This was a multicenter, open-label phase II study of single-agent cetuximab for metastatic esophageal adenocarcinoma patients who failed one prior chemotherapy regimen. Adequate organ function and Zubrod performance status of 0 to 2 were required. Patients received cetuximab 400 mg/m intravenously (IV) on week 1 and 250 mg/m IV weekly thereafter. The primary objective was to determine 6-month overall survival. Secondary end points included progression-free survival, response rate, and toxicity. Tumor tissue was collected for correlative studies.

Results: Sixty-three patients were registered, with eight ineligible or never treated. Fifty-five eligible patients (49 men, 6 women; median age = 61.2 years [range, 30.7-88.5]) were enrolled. Twenty patients survived more than 6 months for a 6-month overall survival rate of 36% (95% confidence interval [CI]: 24-50%). The median overall survival was 4.0 months (95% CI: 3.2-5.9). Median progression-free survival was 1.8 months (95% CI: 1.7-1.9). One partial response and two unconfirmed partial responses were observed. Two patients experienced grade 4 fatigue. There was one treatment-related death due to pneumonitis. Germline polymorphisms of epidermal growth factor receptor, epidermal growth factor, interleukin (IL)-8, cyclooxygenase (COX)-2, vascular epidermal growth factor receptor (VEGF), CCND1, neuropilin 1 (NRP1), and K-ras mutational status were not associated with response or survival.

Conclusions: The 6-month overall survival rate of 36% observed on this study failed to meet the primary survival objective. Thus, cetuximab alone cannot be recommended in the second-line treatment of metastatic esophageal cancer.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial, Phase II
  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adenocarcinoma / drug therapy*
  • Adenocarcinoma / secondary
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal / therapeutic use*
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal, Humanized
  • Antineoplastic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / drug therapy*
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / secondary
  • Cetuximab
  • ErbB Receptors / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Esophageal Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Esophageal Neoplasms / pathology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lymphatic Metastasis
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local / drug therapy*
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local / pathology
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Prognosis
  • Survival Rate


  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal, Humanized
  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • ErbB Receptors
  • Cetuximab

Grant support