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REVIEW ARTICLE Table of Contents   
Year : 2013  |  Volume : 24  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 261-266
Targeted therapy: A novel approach in head and neck cancer


1 Department of Oral Medicine and Radiology, CSI College of Dental Sciences and Research, Madurai, Tamil Nadu, India
2 Department of Oral Medicine and Radiology, Meenakshi Ammal Dental College and Hospital, Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India

Correspondence Address:
A Winnifred Christy
Department of Oral Medicine and Radiology, CSI College of Dental Sciences and Research, Madurai, Tamil Nadu
India
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/0970-9290.116692

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The majority of patients with head and neck cancer present with locally advanced disease. Locally advanced squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck (LA-SCCHN) poses one of the most complex management challenges. This stage of disease is still potentially curable, but requires combined-modality therapy. One of the novel approaches is the use of targeted agents, particularly the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) inhibitors, in treatment strategies in LA-SCCHN. A Medline search covering topics related to targeted therapies in head and neck cancer over the last two decades was made and the facts were compiled. Cetuximab was the first novel agent to obtain regulatory approval in the United States for the treatment of patients with Head and Neck Squamous Cell Cancer HNSCC. Cetuximab has been evaluated in combination with radiotherapy, chemo-radiotherapy, and induction chemotherapies, and was found to increase the overall survival rates in all the arms without raising the toxicity level of the combined modality of treatment significantly. The tyrosine kinase inhibitors Gefinitib and Erlotinib also produced an average response rate of 11% and 4% in different studies and also prolonged the disease control rates when used with chemotherapy. This paper will review the role of targeted agents, particularly the EGFR inhibitors, in the present treatment strategies in advanced, recurrent/metastatic head and neck cancer.


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