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Charity welcomes cetuximab advice

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A cancer charity has welcomed new guidance on the use of cetuximab for the treatment of head and neck cancer.

Cetuximab in combination with radiotherapy is recommended as a possible treatment for people with advanced squamous cell cancer of the head and neck if platinum-based chemotherapy is considered inappropriate.

They must also have a Karnofsky performance-status score – a measure of their ability to carry out daily activities – of 90% or more.

Guidelines issued by NICE say that healthcare professionals should not stop prescribing cetuximab in combination with radiotherapy for people who were already receiving it when the guidance was issued, but who do not fulfil the criteria. These patients should be able to carry on taking cetuximab until they and their healthcare professionals decide that it is the right time to stop treatment, NICE said.

Dr Vinod Joshi of the Mouth Cancer Foundation said the guidance followed its successful appeal last year to have a previous NICE appraisal decision not to recommend the drug for head and neck cancer patients in England and Wales reversed.

“The Appraisal Committee accepted that cetuximab plus radiotherapy caused less severe adverse effects than the chemoradiotherapy regimens and patients should have this option,” he said.

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National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence



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