The role of inhibitors of the epidermal growth factor in management of head and neck cancer
Epidermal Growth Factor
Head and Neck Neoplasms
Epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) is overexpressed in most head and neck cancers and correlates with poor prognosis. In the past few years, numerous clinical trials for head and neck cancer have tested monoclonal antibodies against EGFRs and small molecule inhibitors of EGFR tyrosine kinase. Results led to FDA approval of cetuximab with concomitant radiotherapy for treating locally or regionally advanced squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck (SCCHN), and as a single agent in patients with recurrent or metastatic SCCHN for whom prior platinum-based therapy failed. This article reviews the biology of EGFR as it pertains to head and neck cancer, including the important clinical trials of EGFR monoclonal antibodies and tyrosine kinase inhibitors in SCCHN, alone and with concomitant radiotherapy. Molecular and clinical markers of response and outcome are also discussed.