The EXTREME regimen (chemotherapy [CT; cisplatin/carboplatin and 5-fluorouracil]) plus cetuximab is a standard-of-care first-line (1L) treatment for patients with recurrent and/or metastatic squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck (R/M SCCHN), as supported by international guidelines. The phase III CHANGE-2 trial assessed the efficacy and safety of a modified CT regimen (with a reduced dose of both components) and cetuximab versus CT for the 1L treatment of Chinese patients with R/M SCCHN.
Patients were randomised to receive up to six cycles of CT plus cetuximab followed by cetuximab maintenance until progressive disease or CT alone. The primary end-point was the progression-free survival (PFS) time assessed by the independent review committee (IRC).
Overall, 243 patients were randomised (164 to CT plus cetuximab; 79 to CT). The hazard ratios for PFS by IRC and overall survival (OS) were 0.57 (95% CI: 0.40-0.80; median: 5.5 versus 4.2 months) and 0.69 (95% CI: 0.50-0.93; median: 11.1 versus 8.9 months), respectively, in favour of CT plus cetuximab. The objective response rates (ORR) by IRC were 50.0% and 26.6% with CT plus cetuximab and CT treatment, respectively. Treatment-emergent adverse events of maximum grade 3 or 4 occurred in 61.3% (CT plus cetuximab) and 48.7% (CT) of patients.
CHANGE-2 showed an improved median PFS, median OS and ORR with the addition of cetuximab to a modified platinum/5-fluorouracil regimen, with no new or unexpected safety findings, thereby confirming CT plus cetuximab as an effective and safe 1L treatment for Chinese patients with R/M SCCHN.

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