Researchers from Germany reported that the combination of Erbitux® (cetuximab) and Camptosar® (irinotecan) provides meaningful benefit in the treatment of patients with metastatic colorectal cancer that has not responded to prior Camptosar-based therapies. These results were presented at the 42nd annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) held in Atlanta, Georgia, June 2-6, 2006.
Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the U.S. Once the cancer has spread to distant sites in the body, it is referred to as metastatic cancer. At this stage, treatment is generally aimed at prolonging survival and improving quality of life.
Chemotherapy remains the cornerstone of treatment for patients with metastatic colorectal cancer. Combination chemotherapy that includes Camptosar is a standard treatment option for patients with metastatic colorectal cancer. Some patients with metastatic disease are treated with targeted therapy.
Identifying effective treatment choices for patients who do not respond to chemotherapy remains a challenge. As this disease remains virtually incurable, researchers continue to evaluate therapies that will prolong life while maintaining quality of life for these patients.
Erbitux is a type of targeted therapy called a monoclonal antibody. It works by binding to a protein receptor located on many cancer cells called the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR). Erbitux is currently approved, in combination with radiation therapy, for the treatment of locally or regionally advanced head and neck cancer, or as a single agent in the treatment of advanced, EGFR-expressing head and neck cancer that has not responded to prior platinum-based therapies. It is also approved for treatment with Camptosar in patients with EGFR-expressing, metastatic colorectal cancer that has not responded to prior Camptosar-based therapies, or as a single agent in EGFR-expressing, advanced colorectal cancer in patients who are ineligible for Camptosar-based therapies. Erbitux continues to be evaluated in several clinical trials in the treatment of various cancers.
The Erbitux/Camptosar combination has been shown effective in the treatment of patients with metastatic colorectal cancer that has stopped responding to Camptosar. The results presented at this year’s ASCO provided long-term data from over 1,000 patients involved in the MABEL study (Monoclonal Antibody Erbitux in a European Pre-License), which was conducted across 197 medical centers in eight European countries. Patients in the trial had metastatic colorectal cancer that had failed prior Camptosar-based therapy. Patients were treated with Erbitux plus Camptosar. Notable findings include the following:
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- Median survival was 9.2 months.
- At 12 weeks, the rate of progression-free survival was 61%.
- At 24 weeks, the rate of progression-free survival was 34%.
- Treatment including Erbitux is generally well tolerated.
The researchers concluded that the addition of Erbitux to Camptosar can provide meaningful clinical and survival benefit among patients with metastatic colorectal cancer who have failed prior Camptosar-based therapy. Several studies, including phase III trials, are ongoing in the evaluation of Erbitux in combination with different treatment combinations in various types of cancers.
Patients with metastatic colorectal cancer should discuss with their doctor the potential risks and benefits of Camptosar-based chemotherapy.
Reference: Wilke H, Glynne-Jones R, Thaler J, et al. MABEL- A Large Multinational Study of Cetuximab plus Irinotecan in Irinotecan-Resistant Metastatic Colorectal Cancer. Proceedings from the 42nd annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO). June 2006. Atlanta, GA. Abstract #3549.
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