Cetuximab+RT found to be inferior to standard treatment in HPV+ oropharyngeal cancer
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IMAGE: This is an anatomical illustration of the oropharynx. view more 

Credit: National Cancer Institute

An interim analysis of data from a randomized clinical trial of patients with human papillomavirus (HPV)-positive oropharyngeal cancer found that treatment with radiation therapy and cetuximab is associated with worse overall and progression-free survival compared to the current standard treatment with radiation and cisplatin. The trial was designed to see if cetuximab with radiation would be less toxic than cisplatin with radiation without compromising survival for patients with the disease.

The phase 3 trial, which closed enrollment in 2015, was funded by the National Cancer Institute (NCI), part of the National Institutes of Health, and led by NRG Oncology, part of NCI’s National Clinical Trials Network. The data monitoring committee overseeing the trial recommended releasing the data after an interim data analysis showed that cetuximab with radiation was associated with inferior overall and progression-free survival, compared to cisplatin and radiation. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has previously approved cetuximab with radiation for patients with head and neck cancer, including oropharyngeal cancer. Cetuximab with radiation is an accepted standard of care, especially for patients who cannot tolerate cisplatin.

“The goal of this trial was

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