Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication Date


Publication Title

Ann Oncol


Background: This phase 3 randomized non-inferiority de-escalation trial compared cetuximab (cetux) vs cisplatin (cis), concurrent with accelerated RT 70 Gy/6 weeks, in p16+ oropharyngeal cancer (OPC). Quality of life (QOL) was an important secondary endpoint.

Methods: EORTC QLQ-C30/HN35 was completed at baseline, end of treatment, 3, 6, and 12 months post. The substudy aimed for 400 eligible patients. We report completion rates and compare by arm for change from baseline in each domain (0.05 two-sided alpha and MID of 10 points) using linear mixed models.

Results: Consent was 91% (381/419 offered substudy); 6 protocol deviations excluded (n=375). No significant differences in patient/tumor characteristics were found by participation status. Completion rates (%) at the 5 times did not differ by arm (cis/cetux): 92/94, 74/77, 76/81, 76/81, and 73/74. The swallowing domain of HN35 (previously reported) did not differ significantly by arm. No significant difference was seen by arm for the 6-mo change from baseline on any domain. At end of RT (only), dry mouth was significantly worse for RT+cetux. At end of treatment, all domains showed statistically and clinically significant mean worsening across both arms except Emotional Functioning, Dyspnea, Diarrhea, and Teeth. Most domains returned within 10 points of baseline by 6 mo, with the following maintaining significant impairment: Senses (taste/smell), Social Eating, Opening Mouth, Dry Mouth, Sticky Saliva. At 12 mo post-treatment, worsening from baseline persisted for Senses, Dry Mouth, Sticky Saliva, and Weight Gain. Pain Killer use improved significantly from baseline to 3, 6, and 12 mo.

Conclusions: Although replacing RT+cis with RT+cetux did not benefit QOL, this study has confirmed the responsiveness of EORTC QLQ-C30/HN35 to the effects of concurrent systemic/RT for OPC. Dry Mouth, Sticky Saliva, and Senses showed large, significant, and persistent impairments, and remain worthwhile targets for future de-escalation efforts. Domains related to eating (Swallowing, Appetite, Nutritional Supplements, Social Eating, Weight Loss) did not show sustained significant impairment on this instrument in this study.

Clinical trial identification: NCT01302834.



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