Skip to content

Cancer Health Center

FDA OKs Drug for Head & Neck Cancer

First New Drug for Cancers of the Head & Neck Since the 1950s
Font Size
A
A
A

About Erbitux

Unlike many chemotherapy drugs that work by poisoning cancer cells, Erbitux is an antibody. Erbitux blocks the effect of a major growth factor that is responsible for causing cancers to grow.

Erbitux is also used in other cancers, such as colorectal cancer.

Safety, Effectiveness

Two studies established Erbitux's safety and effectiveness.

One study included 424 patients with head and neck cancer. Using Erbitux in combination with radiation therapy showed a survival time of four years vs. nearly 2.5 years on radiation therapy alone. Tumors also grew slower in the group that got Erbitux and radiation.

In head and neck cancer, tumor growth is associated with pain and difficulties with swallowing, speaking, and eating. Controlling tumor growth for as long as possible is important for patients' well-being.

The second study included 103 patients with recurrent or metastatic SCCHN. Erbitux helped to shrink the patients' tumors after the tumors no longer responded to platinum-based therapy, the standard treatment for patients with this difficult-to-treat disease.

Side Effects

Commonly reported side effects of Erbitux were infusion reactions (fever, chills), skin rash, fatigue/malaise, and nausea, states the FDA.

Radiation's common side effects -- such as sore mouth, trouble swallowing, and radiation-related skin changes -- were similar in frequency in patients receiving Erbitux plus radiation and those receiving radiation alone.

Erbitux is manufactured by ImClone Systems Inc. and will be distributed and marketed by Bristol-Myers Squibb Co.

1 | 2

Today on WebMD

Colorectal cancer cells
A common one in both men and women.
Lung cancer xray
See it in pictures, plus read the facts.
 
sauteed cherry tomatoes
Fight cancer one plate at a time.
Ovarian cancer illustration
Do you know the symptoms?
 
Jennifer Goodman Linn self-portrait
Blog
what is your cancer risk
HEALTH CHECK
 
colorectal cancer treatment advances
Video
breast cancer overview slideshow
SLIDESHOW
 
prostate cancer overview
SLIDESHOW
lung cancer overview slideshow
SLIDESHOW
 
ovarian cancer overview slideshow
SLIDESHOW
Actor Michael Douglas
Article