Background: Because the addition of nimotuzumab to chemoradiation in patients with locally advanced head and neck cancer improved outcomes in a phase 2 study, the authors conducted a phase 3 study to confirm these findings.
Methods: This open-label, investigator-initiated, phase 3, randomized trial was conducted from 2012 to 2018. Adult patients with locally advanced head and neck cancer who were fit for radical chemoradiation were randomized 1:1 to receive either radical radiotherapy (66-70 grays) with concurrent weekly cisplatin (30 mg/m2 ) (CRT) or the same schedule of CRT with weekly nimotuzumab (200 mg) (NCRT).The primary endpoint was progression-free survival (PFS); key secondary endpoints were disease-free survival (DFS), duration of locoregional control (LRC), and overall survival (OS). An intent-to-treat analysis also was performed.
Results: In total, 536 patients were allocated equally to both treatment arms. The median follow-up was 39.13 months. The addition of nimotuzumab improved PFS (hazard ratio [HR], 0.69; 95% CI, 0.53-0.89; P = .004), LRC (HR, 0.67; 95% CI, 0.50-0.89; P = .006), and DFS (HR, 0.71; 95% CI, 0.55-0.92; P = .008) and had a trend toward improved OS (HR, 0.84; 95% CI, 0.65-1.08; P = .163). Grade 3 through 5 adverse events were similar between the 2 arms, except for a higher incidence of mucositis in the NCRT arm (66.7% vs 55.8%; P = .01).
Conclusions: The addition of nimotuzumab to concurrent weekly CRT improves PFS, LRC, and DFS. This combination provides a novel alternative therapeutic option to a 3-weekly schedule of 100 mg/m2 cisplatin in patients with locally advanced head and neck cancer who are treated with radical-intent CRT.
Keywords: Chemoradiation; epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR); head and neck cancer; nimotuzumab.
© 2019 American Cancer Society.