Phase II study of cetuximab as first-line single-drug therapy in patients with unresectable squamous cell carcinoma of the skin

J Clin Oncol. 2011 Sep 1;29(25):3419-26. doi: 10.1200/JCO.2010.34.1735. Epub 2011 Aug 1.


Purpose: To evaluate the efficacy and safety of cetuximab, a monoclonal antibody that inhibits the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR), as a first-line monotherapy in patients with unresectable squamous cell carcinoma of the skin (SCCS).

Patients and methods: Thirty-six patients received cetuximab (initial dose of 400 mg/m(2) followed by subsequent weekly doses of 250 mg/m(2)) for at least 6 weeks with a 48-week follow-up. The primary end point was the disease control rate (DCR) at 6 weeks (according to Response Evaluation Criteria in Solid Tumors [RECIST] criteria). Secondary end points included best response rate, overall survival, progression-free survival (PFS), and toxicity assessment. Association of treatment efficacy with RAS mutations or FcγR genotypes was investigated.

Results: Median age of the study population was 79 years. DCR at 6 weeks was obtained in 25 of 36 patients (69%; 95% CI, 52% to 84%) of the intention-to-treat population. The best responses were eight partial responses and two complete responses. There were no cetuximab-related deaths. There were three related serious adverse events: two grade 4 infusion reactions and one grade 3 interstitial pneumopathy. Grade 1 to 2 acne-like rash occurred in 78% of patients and was associated with prolonged PFS. One HRAS mutation was identified. Combined FcγRIIa-131H/H and/or FcγRIIIa-158V/V polymorphisms were not associated with the clinical outcomes.

Conclusion: As a first-line treatment in patients with unresectable SCCS, cetuximab achieved 69% DCR. A randomized phase III trial is warranted to confirm that cetuximab may be considered as a therapeutic option especially in elderly patients. The low frequency of RAS mutations in SCCS makes SCCS tumors attractive for EGFR inhibition.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • 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
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / surgery
  • Cetuximab
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Lymphatic Metastasis
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Skin Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Skin Neoplasms / pathology
  • Skin Neoplasms / surgery
  • Survival Rate
  • Treatment Outcome


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