When using Erbitux to treat advanced colorectal cancer or squamous cell carcinoma affecting the head or neck, a person might see a reduction in tumor size and an increase in survival time; however, this medication is not a cure for cancer. Older adults will probably tolerate it as well as younger age groups. This medicine is not approved for use in children under the age of 18.
What Is Erbitux Used For?Erbitux® (cetuximab) is a prescription medication approved for the treatment of a type of cancer (squamous cell carcinoma) of the head and neck. It is also approved to treat certain types of advanced colorectal cancer (cancer of the colon and rectum). People may receive Erbitux alone or in combination with other treatments.
Using Erbitux for Head and Neck CancerAs you might guess, head and neck cancer refers to cancer that starts in the area of the head and neck, such as the nose, mouth, and throat. The most common type begins in the mucous cells that line the nose, mouth, and throat. This type of head and neck cancer is called squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck (SCCHN).
Erbitux is approved to treat SCCHN in the following ways:
- In combination with radiation therapy in people who have not yet been treated for their head and neck cancer
- In combination with "platinum-based" chemotherapy (cisplatin or carboplatin) and fluorouracil (Adrucil®, Carac®, Efudex®, Fluoroplex®, also known as 5-FU) in people whose cancer has come back to the same location (recurred) or has spread to other areas of the body (is metastatic)
- As the only treatment in people whose cancer has come back to the same location or has spread to other areas of the body and who have failed treatment with platinum-based chemotherapy.
Erbitux may help shrink cancer tumors in people with head and neck cancer. When used with radiation treatment, it may help improve survival. It does not get rid of cancer, however.