Chemoradiotherapy is standard treatment for localized oesophageal cancer unsuitable for surgery. We aimed to evaluate the efficacy of cetuximab in combination with chemoradiotherapy.
This non-randomised multicentre phase II trial recruited patients aged 18-75 with WHO performance status 0-2 having squamous cell carcinoma or adenocarcinoma in the oesophagus or gastro-oesophageal junction, T2-4, N0-3, M0 not suitable for surgery. Chemotherapy was three 21-day cycles of fluorouracil 750 mg/m2 D1-5 and oxaliplatin D1 (cycle 1:130mg/m 2, cycle 2-3:85 mg/m 2). Radiotherapy was 50Gy in 2Gy/fraction, 5 days a week, concurrent with cycle 2 and 3 and weekly cetuximab. The primary objective was loco-regional control at one year.
52 patients were included. 51 were eligible for toxicity and survival analysis and 46 for recurrence analysis. Full radiotherapy dose was delivered to 80%, 75% received all three cycles of chemotherapy and 75% received four or more doses of cetuximab. The most common related grade III-IV adverse events were gastro-intestinal(16), hypersensitivity(6) and infection(5). There were two drug-related deaths. Within six months from the end of treatment, six patients died from complications from fistulas. The loco-regional control rate at one year was 47.3%(95%CI 30.9%-62.1%). Overall survival at three years was 29.1%(95% CI 17.4-41.9%).
Oxaliplatin and fluorouracil given concurrent with radiotherapy and cetuximab had an acceptable safety profile and showed a clinical response in patients with locoregionally advanced oesophageal cancer unsuitable for surgery. However, the primary end-point was not met, and the addition of cetuximab to definitive chemoradiotherapy cannot be recommended.

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