Cetuximab With or Without Tivantinib in Treating Patients With Head and Neck Cancer That Is Recurrent, Metastatic, or Cannot Be Removed By Surgery


About this study

This randomized phase II trial studies how well cetuximab with or without tivantinib works in treating patients with head and neck cancer that is recurrent, metastatic, or cannot be removed by surgery. Monoclonal antibodies, such as cetuximab, can interfere with tumor growth by blocking the ability of tumor cells to grow and spread. Tivantinib may stop the growth of tumor cells by blocking some of the enzymes needed for cell growth. It is not yet known whether cetuximab is more effective with or without tivantinib in treating patients with head and neck cancer.

Participation eligibility

Participant eligibility includes age, gender, type and stage of disease, and previous treatments or health concerns. Guidelines differ from study to study, and identify who can or cannot participate. There is no guarantee that every individual who qualifies and wants to participate in a trial will be enrolled. Contact the study team to discuss study eligibility and potential participation.

Inclusion Criteria:

  • Histologically/cytologically confirmed diagnosis of squamous cell carcinoma of head and neck origin not amenable to curative intent therapy; both human papillomavirus (HPV) positive (+) and HPV negative (-) are eligible, but status has to be known prior to randomization (although not required for consenting); any type of tissue based HPV assessment is acceptable (e.g. p16 immunohistochemistry [IHC] or HPV in situ hybridization [ISH]); if local HPV testing is not available slides can be sent to the University of Chicago for HPV testing; please note that p16 IHC is generally only considered to be accurate for oropharyngeal tumors
  • Presence of measurable lesions (as per Response Evaluation Criteria in Solid Tumors [RECIST]1.1); generally a ≥ 10 mm tumor lesion (in the longest diameter by computed tomography [CT] scan) or a lymph node ≥ 15 mm (short axis) is considered measurable disease when evaluated by CT scan (with a slice thickness no greater than 5 mm)
  • Availability of tissue (10 tumor containing formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded [FFPE] slides/sections)
  • Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group (ECOG) performance status of 0, 1
  • Patients who have received cetuximab or another inhibitor of epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) in the curative intent treatment setting (e.g. with radiation or during induction chemotherapy [prior to definitive, curative intent therapy]) are eligible for the study
  • Life expectancy of greater than 8 weeks
  • Hemoglobin ≥ 9.0 g/dL
  • Leukocytes ≥ 3,000/mcL
  • Absolute neutrophil count ≥ 1,500/mcL
  • Platelets ≥ 100,000/mcL
  • Total bilirubin ≤ 1.5 X institutional upper limit of normal
  • Aspartate aminotransferase (AST) (serum glutamic oxaloacetic transaminase [SGOT])/alanine aminotransferase (ALT) (serum glutamate pyruvate transaminase [SGPT]) ≤ 2.5 X institutional upper limit of normal
  • Serum creatinine ≤ 1.5 X institutional upper limit of normal OR creatinine clearance ≥ 60 mL/min/1.73 m^2 for patients with creatinine levels above institutional normal
  • Patients must be able to swallow ARQ 197 (tivantinib) by mouth, unless adequate data about administration by gastrostomy (G)-tube becomes available; tablets may be crushed, but must be taken orally
  • Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-positive patients with normal immune function (cluster of differentiation [CD]4 count > 200) are eligible if there are no drug interactions with ARQ 197 (tivantinib) or cetuximab
  • Women of child-bearing potential and men must agree to use adequate contraception (hormonal or barrier method of birth control; abstinence) prior to study entry and for the duration of study participation; should a woman become pregnant or suspect she is pregnant while she or her partner is participating in this study, she should inform her treating physician immediately; men treated or enrolled on this protocol must also agree to use adequate contraception prior to the study, for the duration of study participation, and 4 months after completion of ARQ 197 (tivantinib) administration
  • Ability to understand and the willingness to sign a written informed consent document

Exclusion Criteria:

  • Patients who have had chemotherapy or radiotherapy within 2 weeks (6 weeks for nitrosoureas or mitomycin C) prior to entering the study or those who have not recovered from adverse events due to agents administered more than 2 weeks earlier
  • Nasopharyngeal tumors that show lymphoepithelioma histology
  • Patients who have received more than 2 prior cytotoxic treatments in the palliative treatment setting are ineligible
  • Patients who have received treatment with an EGFR or MET inhibitor in the palliative treatment setting are ineligible
  • Patients with known, active brain metastases should be excluded from this clinical trial; patients with treated brain metastases stable for ≥ 12 weeks are eligible; use of corticosteroid (for patients with brain metastasis and other indications for corticosteroid use) is acceptable on a low maintenance or tapering dose schedule
  • History of allergic reactions attributed to compounds of similar chemical or biologic composition to ARQ 197 (tivantinib) or cetuximab
  • Concurrent life-threatening diseases: patients with diseases which with reasonable certainty do not limit life expectancy to 12 months or less are eligible; assessment of such concurrent illnesses should be by the principal investigator
  • Uncontrolled intercurrent illness including, but not limited to, ongoing or active infection, symptomatic congestive heart failure, unstable angina pectoris, cardiac arrhythmia, or psychiatric illness/social situations that would limit compliance with study requirements
  • Pregnant women are excluded from this study; breastfeeding should be discontinued if the mother is treated with ARQ 197 (tivantinib)
  • Concurrent use of warfarin (therapeutic use) is allowed, but requires close monitoring of prothrombin time (PT)/international normalized ratio (INR)
  • History of congestive heart failure defined as class II to IV per New York Heart Association (NYHA) classification; active coronary artery disease (CAD), clinically significant bradycardia or other uncontrolled, cardiac arrhythmia defined as ≥ grade 3 according to National Cancer Institute (NCI) Common Terminology Criteria for Adverse Events (CTCAE), version 4.0, or uncontrolled hypertension; myocardial infarction occurring within 6 months prior to study entry (myocardial infarction occurring > 6 months prior to study entry is permitted)
  • Patients may not be receiving any other investigational agents

Participating Mayo Clinic locations

Study statuses change often. Please contact the study team for the most up-to-date information regarding possible participation.

Mayo Clinic Location Status Contact

Scottsdale/Phoenix, Ariz.

Mayo Clinic principal investigator

Donald Northfelt, M.D.

Closed for enrollment

Contact information:

Cancer Center Clinical Trials Referral Office


Rochester, Minn.

Mayo Clinic principal investigator

Katharine Price, M.D.

Closed for enrollment

Contact information:

Cancer Center Clinical Trials Referral Office

(855) 776-0015

More information


Publications are currently not available

Additional contact information

Cancer-related trials contact form

Phone: 855-776-0015 (toll-free)

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