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Matthew G. Fury and David G. Pfister

For palliation of patients with recurrent and/or metastatic head and neck squamous cell cancer (R/M HNSCC), the major classes of commonly used cytotoxic chemotherapeutic agents are platinum agents (cisplatin, carboplatin), taxanes (paclitaxel, docetaxel), and antimetabolic agents (methotrexate, 5-fluorouracil). Cetuximab, a monoclonal antibody directed against the extracellular domain of the epidermal growth factor receptor, also shows modest activity against R/M HNSCC. Because the overall management of patients with R/M HNSCC often involves multidisciplinary input, this review focuses on data that help guide decision-making in scenarios in which palliative chemotherapy is planned. Avenues for ongoing research are also presented.

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Shrujal Baxi, Matthew Fury, Ian Ganly, Shyam Rao and David G. Pfister

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Matthew G. Fury, Eric Sherman, Donna Lisa, Neeraj Agarwal, Kenneth Algazy, Bruce Brockstein, Corey Langer, Dean Lim, Ranee Mehra, Sandeep K. Rajan, Susan Korte, Brynna Lipson, Furhan Yunus, Tawee Tanvetyanon, Stephanie Smith-Marrone, Kenneth Ng, Han Xiao, Sofia Haque and David G. Pfister

Cetuximab is typically administered on a weekly schedule for patients with recurrent or metastatic head and neck squamous cell cancer (HNSCC). This study explores cetuximab administered every 2 weeks (q2w). In this multicenter randomized prospective phase II study, eligible patients (≤2 prior cytotoxic chemotherapy regimens for recurrent or metastatic disease; ECOG performance status ≤2) were randomized to receive cetuximab q2w at 500 mg/m2 (Group A) or 750 mg/m2 (Group B). The primary end point was response rate (RECIST 1.0). Sixty-one patients were enrolled: 35 in Group A and 26 in Group B, which was closed early for lack of efficacy. Confirmed partial response rates were 11% for Group A (4/35) and 8% for Group B (2/26) according to intention to treat analysis. Partial responses occurred only among patients whose primary tumors were in the oral cavity or larynx. Median progression-free survival (PFS) and median overall survival (OS) were similar for both groups (PFS, 2.2 and 2.0 months; OS, 7.0 and 9.4 months; Groups A and B, respectively). The most common cetuximab-related adverse events (all grades) among treated subjects included rash, fatigue, and hypomagnesemia. Cetuximab, 500 mg/m2, q2w achieves similar efficacy as conventional dosing for patients with recurrent or metastatic HNSCC. Escalating the dose to 750 mg/m2 q2w offers no obvious therapeutic advantage.

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Robert A. Figlin, Elizabeth Brown, Andrew J. Armstrong, Wallace Akerley, Al B. Benson III, Harold J. Burstein, David S. Ettinger, Phillip G. Febbo, Matthew G. Fury, Gary R. Hudes, Merrill S. Kies, Eunice L. Kwak, Robert J. Morgan Jr., Joanne Mortimer, Karen Reckamp, Alan P. Venook, Frank Worden and Yun Yen

The mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) protein complex functions as an integration center for various intracellular signaling pathways involving cell cycle progression, proliferation, and angiogenesis. These pathways are frequently dysregulated in cancer, and therefore mTOR inhibition is a potentially important antitumor target. Commercially available mTOR inhibitors include rapamycin (i.e., sirolimus) and temsirolimus. Other agents under investigation include everolimus and deforolimus. mTOR inhibition has been studied in various solid tumors, including breast, gynecologic, gastrointestinal, prostate, lung, and head and neck cancers. Studies have focused on mTOR inhibition as a monotherapy or in combination with other drugs based on the principle that inhibiting as many targets as possible reduces the emergence of drug resistance. Temsirolimus is currently the only mTOR inhibitor that is specifically labeled for treatment of solid tumors. However, preclinical studies and early-phase trials are rapidly evolving. Additionally, research is further defining the complicated mTOR pathways and how they may be disordered in specific malignancies. To address these issues, NCCN convened a task force to review the underlying physiology of mTOR and related cellular pathways, and to review the current status of research of mTOR inhibition in solid tumors. (JNCCN 2008;6[Suppl 5]:S1—S20)