Induction cetuximab, paclitaxel, and carboplatin followed by chemoradiation with cetuximab, paclitaxel, and carboplatin for stage III/IV head and neck squamous cancer: a phase II ECOG-ACRIN trial (E2303)

H. J. Wanebo, J. Lee, B. A. Burtness, J. A. Ridge, M. Ghebremichael, S. A. Spencer, D. Psyrri, E. Pectasides, D. Rimm, F. R. Rosen, M. R. Hancock, Khaled Tolba, A. A. Forastiere

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27 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND: E2303 evaluated cetuximab, paclitaxel, and carboplatin used as induction therapy and concomitant with radiation therapy in patients with stage III/IV head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) determining pathologic complete response (CR), event-free survival (EFS), and toxicity.

PATIENTS AND METHODS: Patients with resectable stage III/IV HNSCC underwent induction therapy with planned primary site restaging biopsies (at week 8 in clinical complete responders and at week 14 if disease persisted). Chemoradiation (CRT) began week 9. If week 14 biopsy was negative, patients completed CRT (68-72 Gy); otherwise, resection was carried out. p16 protein expression status was correlated with response/survival.

RESULTS: Seventy-four patients were enrolled; 63 were eligible. Forty-four (70%) were free of surgery to the primary site, progression, and death 1-year post-treatment. Following induction, 41 (23 CR) underwent week 8 primary site biopsy and 24 (59%) had no tumor (pathologic CR). Week 14 biopsy during chemoradiation (50 Gy) in 34 (15 previously positive biopsy; 19 no prior biopsy) was negative in 33. Thus 90% of eligible patients completed CRT. Overall survival and EFS were 78% and 55% at 3 years, respectively. Disease progression in 23 patients (37%) was local only in 10 (16%), regional in 5 (8%), local and regional in 2 (3%), and distant in 5 patients (8%). There were no treatment-related deaths. Toxicity was primarily hematologic or radiation-related. p16 AQUA score was not associated with response/survival.

CONCLUSIONS: Induction cetuximab, paclitaxel, and carboplatin followed by the same drug CRT is safe and induces high primary site response and promising survival.


Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2036-2041
Number of pages6
JournalAnnals of Oncology
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Oct 1 2014
Externally publishedYes



  • cetuximab
  • chemoradiation
  • head–neck
  • induction chemotherapy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)

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