Phase III Trial Comparing Methotrexate and Cetuximab in First-line Treatment of Recurrent and/or Metastatic Squamous Cell Head and Neck Cancer (ELAN-UNFIT)


Gustave Roussy

Status and phase

Phase 3


Head Neck Cancer Squamous Cell Recurrent


Drug: Methotrexate
Drug: Cetuximab

Study type


Funder types



2012/1937 (Other Identifier)

Details and patient eligibility


To test whether cetuximab improves efficacy/tolerance as compared to methotrexate in first line treatment of unfit patients ³ 70 years old with recurrent and /or metastatic HNSCC. Efficacy assessed by failure free survival


82 patients




70+ years old


No Healthy Volunteers

Inclusion criteria

  • Patients aged 70 or over
  • Included in ELAN-ONCOVAL study and considered as "Unfit" by geriatric evaluation done in this study
  • PS < 3
  • Histologically confirmed diagnosis of squamous cell carcinoma of head and neck: oral cavity, oropharynx, hypopharynx, larynx.
  • Recurrence and/or metastatic disease not suitable for local therapy.
  • At least one measurable lesion (RECIST 1.1) by CT or MRI.
  • No brain metastasis.
  • Clearance of creatinine >= 50ml/mn (MDRD).
  • Adequate haematological functions defined as follows: absolute neutrophil count > 1.5 x 109/l, platelet > 100 x 109/l, hemoglobin >= 9.5 g/dl
  • Adequate hepatic functions with serum total bilirubin <1.25 Upper limit of normal range (ULN); SGOT/SGPT < 5 ULN; AP < 5 ULN
  • Life expectancy > 12 weeks.
  • Males of reproductive potential must agree to use an effective contraceptive method during the treatment and after the end of treatment during five months.
  • Signed informed consent.
  • Affiliated to Health Insurance regimen (according to Public Health Law of August 9, 2004).

Exclusion criteria

  • Included in ELAN-ONCOVAL study and considered as "Fit" by geriatric evaluation
  • Patients with nasopharyngeal cancer, paranasal sinus, or cervical lymph nodes metastasis of unknown origin.
  • Prior systemic chemotherapy for the squamous cell carcinoma of head and neck, except if given as part of a multimodal treatment for locally advanced disease which was completed more than 6 months prior to study entry.
  • Prior anti-EGFR therapy, except if given in association with radiotherapy for squamous cell carcinoma of head and neck which was completed more than 12 months prior to study entry.
  • Surgery (excluding prior diagnostic biopsy) or irradiation within 4 weeks before study entry.
  • Brain metastasis
  • Active infection including tuberculosis and HIV infection.
  • Severe or uncontrolled cardiovascular disease (congestive heart failure NYHA III or IV), unstable angina pectoris, history of myocardial infarction within the last twelve months, significant arrhythmias
  • Concomitant immunotherapy or antitumoral hormonotherapy.
  • Requirement for treatment with any of the prohibited concomitant medications listed in SPC of Cetuximab and Methotrexate. In particular, acetylsalicylic acid used at analgesic, antipyretic or anti-inflammatory doses (see Section 6.3.2).
  • Malignancies within 5 years prior to randomization, with the exception of adequately treated basal or squamous cell skin cancer and carcinoma in situ of the cervix
  • Known allergic hypersensitivity to cetuximab or known positive results of tests for IgE antibodies against cetuximab (α-1-3-galactose) and/or methotrexate or any of their excipients.
  • Other severe acute or chronic psychiatric or medical condition, or significant laboratory abnormality requiring further investigation that may cause undue risk for the patient's safety, inhibit protocol participation, or interfere with interpretation of study results, and in the judgment of the investigator would make the patient inappropriate for entry into this study

Trial design

Primary purpose




Interventional model

Parallel Assignment


None (Open label)

82 participants in 2 patient groups

Experimental group
Dosing schedule: 500 mg/m², every two weeks (q2w) Mode of administration: IV
Drug: Cetuximab
Active Comparator group
Dosing schedule: 40mg/m2 weekly (q1w) Mode of administration: IV
Drug: Methotrexate

Trial contacts and locations



Data sourced from

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