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Treatment of recurrent squamous cell carcinoma of the skin with cetuximab.

BACKGROUND: Squamous cell carcinoma of the skin (SCCS) is rarely encountered by medical oncologists owing to success of local therapies. When advanced SCCS requires systemic palliation, treatment with conventional chemotherapy, such as cisplatin, is often precluded by a patient's age or medical comorbidities. Cetuximab is a human and mouse chimeric antibody against epidermal growth factor receptor, a tyrosine kinase receptor richly expressed by SCCS cells, including lymph node metastases. This drug, approved for treatment of squamous cell carcinoma of the upper aerodigestive tract as well as colorectal cancer, is well tolerated. Toxic effects include acneiform rash and diarrhea. Preclinical data suggest that epidermal growth factor receptor is important in SCCS carcinogenesis.

OBSERVATIONS: Herein, we report 2 cases of elderly patients with extensive, in-transit recurrence of SCCS who have been treated with palliative cetuximab. The drug was well tolerated, with the exception of acneiform rash requiring dose reduction in 1 patient. Both patients had excellent responses to cetuximab: the first patient had complete response by week 16 of treatment and the second a near-complete response by week 12. In both cases, initial response to cetuximab was evident by week 4 of therapy.

CONCLUSIONS: To our knowledge, these are the first reported cases of cetuximab use in patients with SCCS. The encouraging responses justify the prospective study of cetuximab in SCCS.

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