Background: In the phase III LUX-Head & Neck 1 (LUX-H&N1) trial, second-line afatinib significantly improved progression-free survival (PFS) versus methotrexate in patients with recurrent/metastatic head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (R/M HNSCC). Here, we evaluated association of prespecified biomarkers with efficacy outcomes in LUX-H&N1. Patients and methods: Randomized patients with R/M HNSCC and progression following ≥2 cycles of platinum therapy received afatinib (40 mg/day) or methotrexate (40 mg/m2/week). Tumor/serum samples were collected at study entry for patients who volunteered for inclusion in biomarker analyses. Tumor biomarkers, including p16 (prespecified subgroup; all tumor subsites), EGFR, HER2, HER3, c-MET and PTEN, were assessed using tissue microarray cores and slides; serum protein was evaluated using the VeriStrat® test. Biomarkers were correlated with efficacy outcomes. Results: Of 483 randomized patients, 326 (67%) were included in the biomarker analyses; baseline characteristics were consistent with the overall study population. Median PFS favored afatinib over methotrexate in patients with p16-negative [2.7 versus 1.6 months; HR 0.70 (95% CI 0.50-0.97)], EGFR-amplified [2.8 versus 1.5 months; HR 0.53 (0.33-0.85)], HER3-low [2.8 versus 1.8 months; HR 0.57 (0.37-0.88)], and PTEN-high [1.6 versus 1.4 months; HR 0.55 (0.29-1.05)] tumors. Afatinib also improved PFS in combined subsets of patients with p16-negative and EGFR-amplified tumors [2.7 versus 1.5 months; HR 0.47 (0.28-0.80)], and patients with p16-negative tumors who were EGFR therapy-naïve [4.0 versus 2.4 months; HR 0.55 (0.31-0.98)]. PFS was improved in afatinib-treated patients who were VeriStrat 'Good' versus 'Poor' [2.7 versus 1.5 months; HR 0.71 (0.49-0.94)], but no treatment interaction was observed. Afatinib improved tumor response versus methotrexate in all subsets analyzed except for those with p16-positive disease (n = 35). Conclusions: Subgroups of HNSCC patients who may achieve increased benefit from afatinib were identified based on prespecified tumor biomarkers (p16-negative, EGFR-amplified, HER3-low, PTEN-high). Future studies are warranted to validate these findings.
- Phase III
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