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Erlotinib effective and with fewer side-effects after first-line treatment
Date:2/26/2011

to chemotherapy with better tolerability, even in this population of patients with poor prognosis," Dr Ciuleanu said. "The study included a broad, unselected population, showing that patients can benefit from erlotinib regardless of their EGFR mutation status. Erlotinib therefore gives doctors an effective alternative to chemotherapy after disease progression, without chemo-related side-effects."

Serious treatment-related adverse events were seen in only 1% of patients treated with erlotinib, the researchers said, compared to 6.6% of those in the chemotherapy arm of the study.

"The likelihood of side-effects is a serious consideration for patients who are already physically unwell due to the advanced stage of their disease," Dr Ciuleanu said. "The importance of this finding is that when safety data are considered they show that the benefits associated with erlotinib can be achieved with better tolerability than chemotherapy."

Commenting on the study, which he was not involved in, Professor Jean-Paul Sculier from Institut Jules Bordet, Belgium, noted that there are currently three drugs specifically registered for second-line single-agent treatment in advanced non-small cell lung cancer, all of which have the same impact on survival: erlotinib, pemetrexed (restricted to non-squamous histologies) and docetaxel.

"Docetaxel is no longer protected by patent, meaning it is cheaper and generics are available," he noted. "A potential advantage of erlotinib is administration in a targeted way for tumors with activating EGFR mutations, however more data are needed before the drug can be recommended with a good level of evidence in that indication."


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Contact: Vanessa Pavinato
media@esmo.org
European Society for Medical Oncology
Source:Eurekalert

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