Radiotherapy Plus Cisplatin with or Without Lapatinib for Non-Human Papillomavirus Head and Neck Carcinoma: A Phase 2 Randomized Clinical Trial

Stuart J. Wong, Pedro A. Torres-Saavedra, Nabil F. Saba, George Shenouda, Jeffrey M. Bumpous, Robert E. Wallace, Christine H. Chung, Adel K. El-Naggar, Clement K. Gwede, Barbara Burtness, Paul A. Tennant, Neal E. Dunlap, Rebecca Redman, William A. Stokes, Soumon Rudra, Loren K. Mell, Assuntina G. Sacco, Sharon A. Spencer, Lisle Nabell, Min YaoFabio L. Cury, Darrion L. Mitchell, Christopher U. Jones, Selim Firat, Joseph N. Contessa, Thomas Galloway, Adam Currey, Jonathan Harris, Walter J. Curran, Quynh Thu Le

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Importance: Patients with locally advanced non-human papillomavirus (HPV) head and neck cancer (HNC) carry an unfavorable prognosis. Chemoradiotherapy (CRT) with cisplatin or anti-epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) antibody improves overall survival (OS) of patients with stage III to IV HNC, and preclinical data suggest that a small-molecule tyrosine kinase inhibitor dual EGFR and ERBB2 (formerly HER2 or HER2/neu) inhibitor may be more effective than anti-EGFR antibody therapy in HNC. Objective: To examine whether adding lapatinib, a dual EGFR and HER2 inhibitor, to radiation plus cisplatin for frontline therapy of stage III to IV non-HPV HNC improves progression-free survival (PFS). Design, Setting, and Participants: This multicenter, phase 2, double-blind, placebo-controlled randomized clinical trial enrolled 142 patients with stage III to IV carcinoma of the oropharynx (p16 negative), larynx, and hypopharynx with a Zubrod performance status of 0 to 1 who met predefined blood chemistry criteria from October 18, 2012, to April 18, 2017 (median follow-up, 4.1 years). Data analysis was performed from December 1, 2020, to December 4, 2020. Intervention: Patients were randomized (1:1) to 70 Gy (6 weeks) plus 2 cycles of cisplatin (every 3 weeks) plus either 1500 mg per day of lapatinib (CRT plus lapatinib) or placebo (CRT plus placebo). Main Outcomes and Measures: The primary end point was PFS, with 69 events required. Progression-free survival rates between arms for all randomized patients were compared by 1-sided log-rank test. Secondary end points included OS. Results: Of the 142 patients enrolled, 127 (median [IQR] age, 58 [53-63] years; 98 [77.2%] male) were randomized; 63 to CRT plus lapatinib and 64 to CRT plus placebo. Final analysis did not suggest improvement in PFS (hazard ratio, 0.91; 95% CI, 0.56-1.46; P =.34) or OS (hazard ratio, 1.06; 95% CI, 0.61-1.86; P =.58) with the addition of lapatinib. There were no significant differences in grade 3 to 4 acute adverse event rates (83.3% [95% CI, 73.9%-92.8%] with CRT plus lapatinib vs 79.7% [95% CI, 69.4%-89.9%] with CRT plus placebo; P =.64) or late adverse event rates (44.4% [95% CI, 30.2%-57.8%] with CRT plus lapatinib vs 40.8% [95% CI, 27.1%-54.6%] with CRT plus placebo; P =.84). Conclusion and Relevance: In this randomized clinical trial, dual EGFR-ERBB2 inhibition with lapatinib did not appear to enhance the benefit of CRT. Although the results of this trial indicate that accrual to a non-HPV HNC-specific trial is feasible, new strategies must be investigated to improve the outcome for this population with a poor prognosis. Trial Registration: Identifier: NCT01711658.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1565-1573
Number of pages9
JournalJAMA Oncology
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 16 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research

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