A randomized, phase II study of afatinib versus cetuximab in metastatic or recurrent squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck

T. Y. Seiwert, J. Fayette, D. Cupissol, J. M. del Campo, P. M. Clement, R. Hitt, M. Degardin, W. Zhang, A. Blackman, E. Ehrnrooth, E. E.W. Cohen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background: Afatinib is an oral, irreversible ErbB family blocker that has shown activity in epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR)-mutated lung cancer. We hypothesized that the agent would have greater antitumor activity compared with cetuximab in recurrent or metastatic (R/M) head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) patients, whose disease has progressed after platinum-containing therapy. Patients and methods: An open-label, randomized, phase II trial was conducted in 43 centers; 124 patients were randomized (1: 1) to either afatinib (50 mg/day) or cetuximab (250 mg/m2/week) until disease progression or intolerable adverse events (AEs) (stage I), with optional crossover (stage II). The primary end point was tumor shrinkage before crossover assessed by investigator (IR) and independent central review (ICR). Results: A total of 121 patients were treated (61 afatinib, 60 cetuximab) and 68 crossed over to stage II (32 and 36 respectively). In stage I, mean tumor shrinkage by IR/ICR was 10.4%/16.6% with afatinib and 5.4%/10.1% with cetuximab (P = 0.46/0.30). Objective response rate was 16.1%/8.1% with afatinib and 6.5%/9.7% with cetuximab (IR/ICR). Comparable disease control rates were observed with afatinib (50%) and cetuximab (56.5%) by IR; similar results were seen by ICR. Most common grade ≥3 drug-related AEs (DRAEs) were rash/acne (18% versus 8.3%), diarrhea (14.8% versus 0%), and stomatitis/mucositis (11.5% versus 0%) with afatinib and cetuximab, respectively. Patients with DRAEs leading to treatment discontinuation were 23% with afatinib and 5% with cetuximab. In stage II, disease control rate (IR/ICR) was 38.9%/33.3% with afatinib and 18.8%/18.8% with cetuximab. Conclusion: Afatinib showed antitumor activity comparable to cetuximab in R/M HNSCC in this exploratory phase II trial, although more patients on afatinib discontinued treatment due to AEs. Sequential EGFR/ErbB treatment with afatinib and cetuximab provided sustained clinical benefit in patients after crossover, suggesting a lack of cross-resistance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1813-1820
Number of pages8
JournalAnnals of Oncology
Volume25
Issue number9
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 2014
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Afatinib
  • Cetuximab
  • EGFR inhibitor therapy
  • Metastatic HNSCC
  • Recurrent HNSCC

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hematology
  • Oncology

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