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Oral Oncol. 2014 May;50(5):498-505. doi: 10.1016/j.oraloncology.2013.11.008. Epub 2014 Mar 6.

Nimotuzumab provides survival benefit to patients with inoperable advanced squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck: a randomized, open-label, phase IIb, 5-year study in Indian patients.

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Kidwai Memorial Institute of Oncology, Bangalore, India.
Kidwai Memorial Institute of Oncology, Bangalore, India. Electronic address:
Shirdi Sai Baba Cancer Hospital, Manipal, India.
Kasturba Medical College Hospital, Mangalore, India.



Overexpression of epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) in many cancers makes it an attractive therapeutic target. This study evaluated the clinical utility of nimotuzumab, a monoclonal anti-EGFR antibody, used concurrently with radiotherapy (RT) and chemoradiotherapy (CRT) in squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck (SCCHN).


This open-label study randomized 92 treatment-naïve patients (1:1) with advanced SCCHN into chemoradiation (CRT ± nimotuzumab) or radiation (RT ± nimotuzumab) group by investigator's discretion; these were further randomized into CRT + nimotuzumab or CRT and RT + nimotuzumab or RT groups, respectively. Treatment included 6 cycles each of cisplatin (50 mg/week), nimotuzumab (200 mg/week), and RT (total dose, 60-66 Gy). Response (tumor size reduction) was assessed at Month 6 post-treatment and survival, at Month 60.


Forty and 36 patients in the chemoradiation and radiation groups, respectively (intent-to-treat population) were evaluated. Overall response at Month 6 post-treatment was 100% with CRT + nimotuzumab, 70% with CRT, 76% with RT + nimotuzumab, and 37% with RT. At Month 60, overall survival was 57% with CRT + nimotuzumab, 26% with CRT (P = 0.03), 39% with RT + nimotuzumab, and 26% with RT (P > 0.05). Median overall survival was not reached for CRT + nimotuzumab; it was 21.94 months for CRT (P = 0.0078), 14.36 months for RT + nimotuzumab, and 12.78 months for RT (P = 0.45). Risk of death was 64% lower with CRT + nimotuzumab than with CRT (95%CI: 0.37, 1.56), and 24% lower with RT + nimotuzumab than with RT (95%CI: 0.16, 0.79). Thus nimotuzumab was safe and well tolerated with few mild to moderate self-limiting adverse events.


Concurrent use of nimotuzumab with CRT/RT is safe and provides long-term survival benefit.


Chemoradiation; Epidermal growth factor receptor; Head and neck cancer; Humanized monoclonal antibody; Nimotuzumab

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