According to the results of a Phase II clinical trial published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, treatment with vandetanib (an investigational targeted therapy) plus Taxotere® (docetaxel) may result in better progression-free survival than treatment with Taxotere alone among patients with previously-treated non–small cell lung cancer.

Lung cancer causes more cancer-related deaths in the United States than the next three most deadly cancers combined. Non–small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) is the most common type of lung cancer, comprising approximately 75–80% of all lung cancers.

Because many lung cancer patients experience poor treatment outcomes, researchers continue to explore new approaches to treatment, such as new targeted therapies. A targeted therapy is one that is designed to treat only the cancer cells and minimize damage to normal, healthy cells. Cancer treatments that “target” cancer cells may offer the advantage of reduced treatment-related side effects and improved outcomes.

Vandetanib is an investigational targeted therapy that is taken orally. It targets cell signaling pathways that influence tumor growth and spread, specifically those that involve the vascular endothelial growth factor receptor (VEGFR) and the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR).

To explore the effect of adding vandetanib to treatment with the chemotherapy drug Taxotere, researchers conducted a Phase II clinical among 127 patients with Stage IIIB or Stage IV NSCLC who had previously been treated with platinum-based chemotherapy.

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Patients were treated with one of two different doses of vandetanib (100 or 300 mg/day) plus Taxotere or Taxotere alone.

  • Patients treated with vandetanib plus Taxotere experienced better progression-free survival than patients treated with Taxotere alone. Progression-free survival was 18.7 weeks among patients treated with vandetanib 100 mg plus Taxotere, 17 weeks among patients treated with vandetanib 300 mg plus Taxotere, and 12 weeks among patients treated with Taxotere alone.
  • Overall survival did not differ significantly among the three study groups.
  • Common adverse effects of treatment included diarrhea and rash.

The researchers conclude that the combination of vandetanib plus Taxotere may result in longer survival without cancer progression than Taxotere alone among patients with previously-treated non–small lung cancer. The combination of vandetanib and Taxotere will be further evaluated in a Phase III clinical trial.

Reference: Heymach JV, Johnson BE, Prager D et al. Randomized, placebo-controlled Phase II study of vandetanib plus docetaxel in previously treated non-small cell lung cancer. Journal of Clinical Oncology. 2007;4270-4277.

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