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Onco Targets Ther. 2014 Feb 13;7:245-51. doi: 10.2147/OTT.S46933. eCollection 2014.

Targeted treatment of head and neck squamous-cell carcinoma: potential of lapatinib.

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  • 1Division of Hematology and Oncology, Robert H Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center, Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University, Chicago, IL, USA.


Squamous-cell cancer of the head and neck is a heterogeneous malignancy with treatment predicated on a multimodality therapy involving surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation. However, this approach results in durable responses in only a subset of patients, and is associated with significant toxicity. In advanced disease, multi-agent platinum-based chemotherapy produces only modest improvements in survival. Increased insight into tumor biology has demonstrated several critical oncogenic pathways offering prospects for targeted therapy that may improve upon the existing treatment strategies. The epidermal growth factor receptor is one such target, and directed therapy with the monoclonal antibody cetuximab has been extensively studied. Lapatinib is an oral agent that targets multiple transmembrane receptors within the epidermal growth factor receptor family, and offers a promising new approach to treatment. This paper reviews the rationale for and clinical activity of lapatinib in squamous-cell cancer of the head and neck.


epidermal growth factor receptor; larynx; oral cavity; pharynx; targeted therapy


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