According to results presented at the 42nd annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), the treatment combination consisting of the targeted agents Avastin® (bevacizumab) and Tarceva® (erlotinib) may provide an effective and better tolerated treatment option compared to chemotherapy for non–small cell lung cancer patients who have received prior therapies.
Lung cancer remains the leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the U.S. Non–small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) is the most common type of lung cancer and refers to the type of cell where the cancer originates. Relapsed NSCLC refers to cancer that has recurred or progressed following prior therapy. Patients with relapsed NSCLC have limited treatment options and are often not able to tolerate further chemotherapy.
Avastin and Tarceva are two agents targeted against specific proteins that are often found in cancer cells. The proteins are involved in the growth and spread of the cancer cells. When Avastin and Tarceva bind to these proteins, they prevent or reduce the excessive growth of cancer cells. These agents tend to be significantly better tolerated than standard chemotherapy agents. Research continues to evaluate which patients achieve the greatest benefit from targeted agents such as Avastin and Tarceva.
Researchers recently conducted a multi-center clinical trial to compare different treatment options among patients with relapsed NSCLC. This trial included 120 patients. One group was treated with standard chemotherapy consisting of Taxotere® (docetaxel) plus Alimta® (pemetrexed), a second group was treated with Taxotere/Alimta/Avastin, and the third group was treated with Avastin plus Tarceva.
- There was a trend toward improved progression-free survival in the groups treated with Avastin: 4.8 months for patients treated with chemotherapy/Avastin; 4.4 months for patients treated with Avastin/Tarceva; and 3.0 months for patients treated with chemotherapy only.
- At six months, the progression-free survival rate was 30.5% for those treated with chemotherapy/Avastin; 33.6% for those treated with Avastin/Tarceva, and 21.5% for those treated with chemotherapy only.
- At six months, patients treated with Avastin/Tarceva had the greatest rate of overall survival (78.3%), compared with 72.1% for those treated with chemotherapy/Avastin and 60.3% for those treated with chemotherapy only.
- Patients treated with Avastin/Tarceva had greater rates of rash and diarrhea than those treated with the other treatment combinations, however, patients treated with Avastin/Tarceva had lower rates of low levels of immune cells.
The researchers concluded that the targeted treatment combination consisting of Avastin and Tarceva may provide an effective alternative to chemotherapy in the treatment of relapsed NSCLC. Further study is necessary to determine which patients achieve the greatest benefit from each treatment combination. Patients with relapsed NSCLC may wish to speak with their physician regarding their individual risks and benefits of treatment including Avastin/Tarceva.
Reference: Fehrenbacher L, O’Neill V, Belani CP, et al. A phase II, multicenter, randomized clinical trial to evaluate the efficacy and safety of bevacizumab in combination with either chemotherapy (docetaxel or pemetrexed) or erlotinib hydrochloride compared with chemotherapy alone for treatment of recurrent or refractory non-small-cell lung cancer. Proceedings of the 42nd annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology. Atlanta, GA. June 2-6, 2006. Abstract # 7062.
Related News:Tarceva® Improves Survival in Recurrent Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer (7/18/2005)
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