Dr. Vokes on Cetuximab for Head and Neck Cancer

Dr. Everett Vokes from University of Chicago Medical Center on Cetuximab for Head and Neck Cancer

Everett E. Vokes, MD, John E. Ultmann Professor of Medicine and Radiation Oncology, Physician-in-Chief, Chair, Department of Medicine, University of Chicago Medical Center, discusses the use of cetuximab (Erbitux), an epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) inhibitor, for advanced head and neck cancer.

Vokes explains that an examination of the clinical data does not provide a clear picture of cetuximab’s efficacy. As a single agent it induces a response in 15-20% of patients, however, given the frequency of EGFR overexpression in head and neck cancer it could be assumed that this number should be higher.

The FDA recently approved cetuximab,in combination with chemotherapy, for advanced head and neck cancer patients. This trial added cetuximab to 5-fluorouracil and either cisplatin or carboplatin. The combination arm of the trial experienced a 2.7-month increase in survival over chemotherapy alone.

Vokes describes this trial as a breakthrough for these patients because it is the first of its kind to demonstrate an increase in survival.