Epidermal growth factor receptor-targeted therapy in locally advanced or metastatic squamous cell carcinoma of the penis

BJU Int. 2014 Jun;113(6):871-7. doi: 10.1111/bju.12450.


Objective: To evaluate the safety and efficacy of epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR)-targeted therapy in patients with advanced penile or scrotal cancer.

Patients and methods: We retrospectively reviewed the charts of patients with penile or scrotal squamous cell carcinoma who had visited our tertiary cancer centre between 2002 and 2009, including their subsequent treatment and follow-up. We collected details of EGFR-targeted therapy and clinical outcomes. Treatment-associated time-to-disease-progression (TTP), overall survival (OS), responses to therapy and toxicity were evaluated.

Results: A total of 24 patients had received EGFR-targeted therapies, including cetuximab, erlotinib and gefitinib. The most common treatment given (to 67% of patients) was cetuximab combined with one or more cytotoxic drugs. The most common adverse effect was skin rash (71%). The median (range) TTP and OS were 11.3 (1-40) and 29.6 (2-205) weeks, respectively. The OS time for patients with visceral or bone metastases was significantly shorter than it was for those without (24.7 vs 49.9 weeks, P = 0.013). Among 17 patients treated with cetuximab alone or in combination with cisplatin, there were four partial responses (23.5%) including two patients with apparently chemotherapy-resistant tumours.

Conclusions: Our results suggest that cetuximab has antitumour activity in metastatic penile cancer, and may enhance the effect of cisplatin-based chemotherapy. Prospective studies of EGFR-targeted therapies in men with these tumours are warranted.

Keywords: anti-epidermal growth factor monoclonal antibody; penile neoplasms; squamous cell carcinoma; survival.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Antineoplastic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / drug therapy*
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / secondary
  • ErbB Receptors / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Genital Neoplasms, Male / drug therapy
  • Genital Neoplasms, Male / pathology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Penile Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Penile Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Scrotum*


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • ErbB Receptors