Authors: Xiang M, Holsinger FC, Colevas AD, Chen MM, Le QT, Beadle BM
Title: Survival of patients with head and neck cancer treated with definitive radiotherapy and concurrent cisplatin or concurrent cetuximab: A Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results-Medicare analysis.
Journal: Cancer 124(23):4486-4494
Date: 2018 Dec 01
PubMed ID: 30332498
Abstract: BACKGROUND: Cisplatin and cetuximab are both systemic therapies commonly used in combination with radiation (RT) for the definitive treatment of head and neck cancers, but their comparative efficacy is unclear. METHODS: Patients with locoregionally advanced (American Joint Committee on Cancer stage III-IVB) squamous cell carcinomas of the oropharynx, larynx, or hypopharynx were identified in the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results-Medicare database. Patients received either cisplatin or cetuximab concurrent with RT, as determined by Medicare claims. The primary study outcome was head and neck cancer-specific mortality (CSM) analyzed with competing risks. Filtering, propensity score matching, and multivariable Fine-Gray regression were used to adjust for differences between the cisplatin and cetuximab cohorts, including age, comorbidity, and cycles of systemic therapy received. RESULTS: The total cohort consisted of 1395 patients, of whom 786 (56%) received cisplatin and 609 (44%) received cetuximab; the median follow-up was 3.5 years in the patients who remained alive. In the cetuximab cohort, CSM was significantly higher than in the cisplatin cohort (39% vs 25% at 3 years; P < .0001). In the matched cohorts (n = 414), the adjusted hazard ratio of CSM for cetuximab was 1.65 (95% confidence interval, 1.30-2.09; P < .0001) relative to cisplatin, corresponding to an absolute difference of approximately 10% in both CSM and overall survival at 3 years. Cetuximab was associated with less dysphagia, more dermatitis, and a similar incidence of mucositis. CONCLUSIONS: In this sizeable, national patient population, treatment with cetuximab was associated with significantly higher CSM than cisplatin. These results suggest that cisplatin may be the preferred chemotherapeutic agent in this setting.