According to the results of a small phase II clinical trial conducted in Japan, Iressa® (gefitinib) may have a role in the initial treatment of advanced lung cancer patients who have EGFR gene mutations. These results were published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.
Lung cancer remains the leading cause of cancer death in the U.S. Non–small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) is the most common type of lung cancer, accounting for 75%–80% of all lung cancers.
Iressa is an anticancer agent that selectively blocks epidermal growth factor receptors (EGFR). EGFR is a protein involved in the growth and replication of a cell. In some cancers, the EGFR may not be working properly, leading to excessive replication of the cancer cell. Iressa is taken orally and binds to a portion of EGFR to inhibit cancer cell growth.
Previous studies have suggested that only a small fraction of patients with NSCLC will benefit from Iressa, and the drug currently has limited commercial availability. There is still interest, however, in assessing which subgroups of patients are most likely to respond to treatment.
Researchers in Japan recently conducted a phase II clinical trial to assess the use of Iressa in 16 patients with stage IIIB or stage IV lung cancer that had not previously been treated with chemotherapy. All patients in the study had EGFR gene mutations.
- 75 percent of patients experienced a partial reduction in detectable cancer.
- Half the patients survived for more than 9.7 months without a worsening of their cancer.
- None of the patients experienced life-threatening adverse effects of treatment.
The researchers suggest that Iressa may provide safe and effective initial treatment for advanced lung cancer patients who have EGFR gene mutations. The researchers note that additional studies are needed to compare Iressa to chemotherapy in the initial treatment of these patients.
Reference: Inoue A, Suzuki T, Fukuhara T et al. Prospective Phase II Study of Gefitinib for Chemotherapy-Naïve Patients with Advanced Non-small Cell Lung Cancer with Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor Gene Mutations. Journal of Clinical Oncology. Early Online Publication June 19, 2006.
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