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Clin Colorectal Cancer. 2006 Mar;5(6):422-8.

Efficacy and safety of cetuximab/irinotecan in chemotherapy-refractory metastatic colorectal adenocarcinomas: a clinical practice setting, multicenter experience.

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Department of Experimental Oncology and Clinical Applications, University of Palermo, and Medical Oncology Unit, Ospedale San Giovanni di Dio, Napoli, Italy.



This study was designed to evaluate the efficacy and safety of irinotecan/cetuximab administered as third- or fourth-line therapy in a retrospective series of patients with metastatic colorectal cancer refractory to oxaliplatin and irinotecan.


Most patients (90%) had been previously treated with adjuvant 5-fluorouracil/leucovorin, and all had received oxaliplatin-based regimens before receiving irinotecan-based second-line treatment. Sixty patients with irinotecan-refractory colorectal cancer received a regimen comprising weekly irinotecan 120 mg/m2 as a 1-hour intravenous infusion and cetuximab 400 mg/m2 infused over 2 hours as the initial dose and 250 mg/m2 infused over 1 hour for the subsequent administrations. A single treatment cycle comprised 4 weekly infusions followed by 2 weeks of rest.


According to an intent-to-treat analysis, a partial response was exhibited in 12 of 60 enrolled patients (20%; 95% confidence interval, 11%-32%) with a median duration of 5.1 months (range, 3-7.4 months). The tumor growth control rate was 50% (95% confidence interval, 37%-63%). Objective responses did not correlate with performance status, number of sites of disease, and pretreatments or epidermal growth factor receptor status. The median progression-free survival was 3.1 months (range, 1.2-9 months), whereas median overall survival was 6 months (range, 2-13 months). Both survival parameters correlated with performance status at the beginning of treatment. The main grade 3/4 toxicities were nausea (33%), diarrhea (27%), leukopenia (18%), asthenia (13%), and acne-like reaction (13%).


Our data suggest that the weekly irinotecan/cetuximab regimen is feasible in an outpatient setting and tolerated by most patients. At present, combinations of chemotherapy with cetuximab are being evaluated in patients with earlier-stage disease in a number of ongoing studies.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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