The targeted agent Gilotrif (afatinib) improves outcomes compared to Tarceva (erlotinib) among patients with squamous cell lung cancer. These results were recently published in The Lancet Oncology.
Lung cancer remains the leading cause of cancer-related deaths worldwide. In the United States, NSCLC accounts for 75–80% of all lung cancers. Although progress has been made in recent years, the majority of patients with advanced-stage lung cancer still die from their disease. New treatments are sorely needed.
There are several types of lung cancer, depending upon the type of cell within the lung from which the cancer develops. In addition, different genetic mutations and protein sequences affect characteristics of cancer cells, including their responses to certain therapies.
The epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) refers to a pathway in cells that is involved in cellular growth and spread. Some cancer cells have overactive EGFR pathways, causing cancer cells to replicate and spread to different sites in the body. These cancers are referred to as EGFR-positive.
Now, healthcare providers are able to test cancer cells to determine if they are EGFR-positive. This is important information because effective agents that specifically target the EGFR pathway are available for treatment for patients with EGFR-positive lung cancer.
Furthermore, additional genetic mutations and/or expressions of proteins have been identified that help guide optimal treatment options for those with EGFR-positive cancers.
Researchers recently conducted a clinical trial to compare two different agents that target the EGFR pathway in different ways. Patients in the trial were divided into two groups: one group was treated with Gilotrif and the other group was treated with erlotinib.
The trial included approximately 800 patients and included over 20 countries. All patients had advanced, squamous cell lung cancer, and had received prior treatment.
At the time of data analysis, median overall survival and progression-free survival was greater in the group of patients treated with afatinib than the group treated with Tarceva.
Control of disease was also greater in the group treated with Gilotrif than Tarceva.
The researchers concluded that Gilotrif appears to be an effective treatment option for patients with advanced squamous cell lung cancer.
Reference: Soria J-C, Enriqueta F, Cobo M, et al. Afatinib versus erlotinib as second-line treatment of patients with advanced squamous cell carcinoma of the lung (LUX-Lung 8): an open-label randomised controlled phase 3 trial. The Lancet Oncology;16(8):897-907. Available at: http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lanonc/article/PIIS1470-2045(15)00006-6/abstract
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