Efficacy of cisplatin versus cetuximab with radiation in locally advanced head and neck cancer (LAHNC) was evaluated. A total of 96 patients with newly diagnosed LAHNC treated at our institution between 2006 and 2011 with concurrent radiation and cisplatin (group A, n = 45), cetuximab (group B, n = 24), or started with cisplatin but switched to cetuximab because of toxicity (group C, n = 27) were reviewed. Chi-square test, analysis of variance, and log-rank test were used for analysis. The three groups had similar baseline characteristics, except for median age, T stage, albumin levels, hemoglobin levels, performance status, and comorbidities. A complete response (CR) was seen in 77%, 17%, and 67% of patients (P < 0.001), respectively. There was no significant difference in median overall survival (OS) between groups A and C. The median OS for groups A and C was not reached (>65 months), even though it was significantly longer than median OS for group B (11.6 months; P ≤ 0.001). The 2-year OS in groups A and C is significantly higher than that in group B (70% for groups A and C, 22% for group B). There is no significant difference in progression-free survival (PFS) between groups A and C. The median PFS for these groups was not reached (.62 months), and is significantly longer than that for group B (4.3 months; P ≤ 0.001). The 2-year PFS of group A (67%) and group C (76%) was significantly longer than that of group B (20%). Cisplatin with radiation appears to be more efficacious even in suboptimal dosing than cetuximab with radiation in LAHNC but the two groups were not well matched.
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