Erlotinib is an oral anti-cancer drug that can slow a tumor’s growth and spread by inhibiting specific growth receptors on the surface of the cancer cells. Early detection of a patient’s response to EGFR inhibitors, such as erlotinib, is critical to personalizing head and neck cancer treatments.
In a first of its kind study in patients with head and neck cancer, researchers sought to determine how well tumors unaffected by other therapies respond to erlotinib, when the drug dose was adjusted according to the patient’s smoking status. It has been recently shown that smokers metabolize the drug faster than nonsmokers.
Nonsmokers received 150 mg per day and smokers received 300 mg per day for at least 14 days before surgery. A FDG-PET scan and neck CT was performed before treatment and at the end of erlotinib administration. In addition, an early FDG-PET was performed after four to six days of treatment.
The results showed that erlotinib is effective as a first line of therapy when the dose is adjusted per smoking status, even when used for a limited duration. Both smokers and nonsmokers tolerated the dose of erlotinib and neither experienced serious adverse effects. The study also showed that the FDG-PET scan taken early can show changes in the standard uptake value and predict a patient’s response to erlotinib.
“We hope our results will motivate clinicians to consider and investigate further the use of erlotinib in patients with head and neck cancer and adjust the dose for smoking status,” Mercedes Porosnicu, MD, lead author of the study and an assistant professor of internal medicine at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in Winston Salem, N.C., said. “We also hope that our study will help better select the patients expected to respond to erlotinib.”
The abstract, “Pilot study to evaluation the effect of erlotinib administered before surgery in operable patients with squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck (SCCHN),” will be presented as a poster presentation. To speak with one of the study authors, contact Beth Bukata or Nicole Napoli on January 26-27, 2012, in the press room at the Arizona Biltmore at 602-912-7854 or 703-839-7336.
About the American Head and Neck Society
The American Head and Neck Society (AHNS) is the single largest organization in North America for the advancement of research and education in head and neck oncology. The purpose of the AHNS is to promote and advance the knowledge of prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and rehabilitation of neoplasms and other diseases of the head and neck; to promote and advance research in diseases of the head and neck; and to promote and advance the highest professional and ethical standards.
About the American Society of Clinical Oncology
The American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) is the world’s leading professional organization representing physicians who care for people with cancer. With more than 30,000 members, ASCO is committed to improving cancer care through scientific meetings, educational programs and peer-reviewed journals. ASCO is supported by its affiliate organization, the Conquer Cancer Foundation, which funds ground-breaking research and programs that make a tangible difference in the lives of people with cancer. For ASCO information and resources, visit www.asco.org. Patient-oriented cancer information is available at www.cancer.net.
About the American Society for Radiation Oncology
The American Society for Radiation Oncology (ASTRO) is the largest radiation oncology society in the world, with more than 10,000 members who specialize in treating patients with radiation therapies. As the leading organization in radiation oncology, biology and physics, the Society is dedicated to improving patient care through education, clinical practice, advancement of science and advocacy. For more information on radiation therapy, visit www.rtanswers.org. To learn more about ASTRO, visit www.astro.org.
About SNM—Advancing Molecular Imaging and Therapy
SNM is an international scientific and medical organization dedicated to raising public awareness about what molecular imaging is and how it can help provide patients with the best health care possible. SNM members specialize in molecular imaging, a vital element of today’s medical practice that adds an additional dimension to diagnosis, changing the way common and devastating diseases are understood and treated.