Mouth Cancer Foundation hails NICE U-turn

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) has issued a preliminary positive
recommendation (Appraisal Consultation Document) for the use of cetuximab (Erbitux) in combination with radiotherapy for the treatment of locally advanced head and neck cancer.

Cetuximab in combination with radiotherapy can be used as an alternative in mouth cancer patients for whom chemoradiotheraphy is inappropriate.

The Appraisal Committee accepted that cetuximab plus radiotherapy caused less severe adverse effects than the platinum-based chemoradiotherapy regimens.

Currently both carboplatin and cisplatin are used for chemoradiotheraphy in the UK with horrific side-effects.

This news follows the Mouth Cancer Foundation’s successful appeal to the Appeal Panel of NICE to ask its Appraisal Committee to reverse its previous appraisal decision not to recommend the drug for head and neck cancer patients in England and Wales in May 2007.

Dr Vinod Joshi of the Mouth Cancer Foundation said: ‘This is a happy day for people living with locally advanced head and neck cancer in England and Wales and the Mouth Cancer Foundation is pleased that we are one step closer in ensuring that cetuximab will be available to them.

‘For many years, the treatment options for this devastating disease have been limited. The availability of cetuximab will be the first significant treatment advance since the 1950s for head and neck cancer. It offers patients significant improvements in local control of the disease and survival.’

The Mouth Cancer Foundation represents the views of its members constituting a wide population of patients with mouth cancer. Their website is at

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