Front Oncol. 2022 Jul 22;12:953020. doi: 10.3389/fonc.2022.953020. eCollection 2022.
OBJECTIVES: Induction chemotherapy (ICT) followed by definitive treatment is an accepted non-surgical approach for locoregionally advanced head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (LA-HNSCC). However, ICT remains a challenge for cisplatin-unfit patients. We evaluated paclitaxel and cetuximab (P-C) as ICT in a cohort of LA-HNSCC patients unfit for cisplatin.
MATERIALS AND METHODS: This is a retrospective analysis of patients with newly diagnosed LA-HNSCC considered unfit for cisplatin-based chemotherapy (age >70 and/or ECOG≥2 and/or comorbidities) treated with weekly P-C followed by definitive radiotherapy and cetuximab (RT-C) between 2010 and 2017. Toxicity and objective response rate (ORR) to ICT and RT-C were collected. Median overall survival (OS) and progression-free survival (PFS) were estimated using the Kaplan-Meier method. Cox regression analysis was performed to determine baseline predictors of OS and PFS.
RESULTS: A total of 57 patients were included. Grade 3-4 toxicity rate to ICT was 54.4%, and there was a death deemed treatment-related (G5). P-C achieved an ORR of 66.7%, including 12.3% of complete responses (CR). After P-C, 45 patients (78.9%) continued with concomitant RT-C. Twenty-six patients (45.6%) achieved a CR after definitive treatment. With a median follow-up of 21.7 months (range 1.2-94.6), median OS and PFS were 22.9 months and 10.7 months, respectively. The estimated 2-year OS and PFS rates were 48.9% and 33.7%, respectively. Disease stage had a negative impact on OS (stage IVb vs. III-IVa: HR = 2.55 [1.08-6.04], p = 0.03), with a trend towards worse PFS (HR = 1.92 [0.91-4.05], p = 0.09). Primary tumor in the larynx was associated with improved PFS but not OS (HR = 0.45 [0.22-0.92], p = 0.03, and HR = 0.69 [0.32-1.54], p = 0.37, respectively).
CONCLUSION: P-C was a well-tolerated and active ICT regimen in this cohort of LA-HNSCC patients unfit for cisplatin-based chemotherapy. P-C might represent a valid ICT option for unfit patients and may aid patient selection for definitive treatment.