Cetuximab, a Monoclonal Antibody Targeting the Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor, in Combination With Gemcitabine for Advanced Pancreatic Cancer: A Multicenter Phase II Trial

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To determine the response rate, time to disease progression, survival duration and rate, and toxicity with the combination of cetuximab and gemcitabine in patients with epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR)-expressing advanced pancreatic cancer.

Patients and Methods

Patients with measurable locally advanced or metastatic pancreatic cancer who had never received chemotherapy for their advanced disease and had immunohistochemical evidence of EGFR expression were eligible for the multicenter phase II trial. Patients were treated with cetuximab at an initial dose of 400 mg/m2, followed by 250 mg/m2 weekly for 7 weeks. Gemcitabine was administered at 1,000 mg/m2 for 7 weeks, followed by 1 week of rest. In subsequent cycles, cetuximab was administered weekly, and gemcitabine was administered weekly for 3 weeks every 4 weeks.


Sixty-one patients were screened for EGFR expression, 58 patients (95%) had at least 1+ staining, and 41 were enrolled onto the trial. Five patients (12.2%) achieved a partial response, and 26 (63.4%) had stable disease. The median time to disease progression was 3.8 months, and the median overall survival duration was 7.1 months. One-year progression-free survival and overall survival rates were 12% and 31.7%, respectively. The most frequently reported grade 3 or 4 adverse events were neutropenia (39.0%), asthenia (22.0%), abdominal pain (22.0%), and thrombocytopenia (17.1%).


Cetuximab in combination with gemcitabine showed promising activity against advanced pancreatic cancer. Further clinical investigation is warranted.

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