BACKGROUND: In recurrent or metastatic (R/M) skin squamous cell cancer (sSCC) not amenable to radiotherapy (RT) or surgery, chemotherapy (CT) has a palliative intent and limited clinical responses. The role of oral pan-HER inhibitor dacomitinib in this setting was investigated within a clinical trial.
METHODS: Patients with diagnosis of R/M sSCC were treated. Dacomitinib was started at a dose of 30 mg daily (QD) for 15 d, followed by 45 mg QD. Primary end-point was response rate (RR). Tumour samples were analysed through next-generation sequencing using a custom panel targeting 36 genes associated with sSCC.
RESULTS: Forty-two patients (33 men; median age 77 years) were treated. Most (86%) received previous treatments consisting in surgery (86%), RT (50%) and CT (14%). RR was 28% (2% complete response; 26% partial response), disease control rate was 86%. Median progression-free survival and overall survival were 6 and 11 months, respectively. Most patients (93%) experienced at least one adverse event (AE): diarrhoea, skin rash (71% each), fatigue (36%) and mucositis (31%); AEs grade 3-4 occurred in 36% of pts. In 16% of cases, treatment was discontinued because of drug-related toxicity. TP53, NOTCH1/2, KMT2C/D, FAT1 and HER4 were the most frequently mutated genes. BRAF, NRAS and HRAS mutations were more frequent in non-responders, and KMT2C and CASP8 mutations were restricted to this subgroup.
CONCLUSIONS: In sSCC, dacomitinib showed activity similar to what was observed with anti-epidermal growth factor receptor agents, and durable clinical benefit was observed. Safety profile was comparable to previous experiences in other cancers. Molecular pt selection could improve therapeutic ratio.