According to updated results from a phase II clinical trial presented at the 23rd annual Chemotherapy Foundation Symposium, treatment with the combination of Tarceva® (erlotinib) and Avastin® (bevacizumab) resulted in good survival among patients with metastatic renal cell carcinoma.
The kidneys are a pair of bean-shaped organs located on each side of the spine that filter blood and eliminate waste in the urine through a complex system of filtration tubules. All of the blood in the body passes through the kidneys approximately 20 times an hour.
Renal cell carcinoma (RCC) is an uncommon form of cancer that is most often characterized by the presence of cancer cells in the lining of the kidney’s filtration tubules. Cancer that has spread outside the kidney to several and/or distant sites in the body is referred to as metastatic RCC.
Treatments for metastatic RCC include palliative surgery, radiation therapy, and immune stimulating agents such as Proleukin® (interleukin-2). In an effort to improve the poor prognosis poor (median survival is roughly 10 months) for patients with metastatic RCC, researchers continue to explore new treatment options. Clinical trials of targeted therapies (therapies that target a specific component of a cancer cell) are producing promising results.
One such targeted therapy is Tarceva (erlotinib). Tarceva targets the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) pathway, which is involved in the replication of cells. By blocking the action of the EGFR, Tarceva slows or stops the proliferation of cancer cells.
Another targeted therapy is Avastin (bevacizumab), which targets vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF). VEGF is a protein involved in cellular growth, replication and spread, and new blood vessel formation. Avastin reduces the growth and spread of cancer cells by inhibiting the growth of new blood vessels.
To evaluate the combination of Tarceva and Avastin in patients with metastatic RCC, researchers conducted a phase II clinical trial among 59 patients. All patients had surgery to remove their kidney (nephrectomy). At a median follow-up of 27 months, survival was impressive:
- 25% of patients experienced a partial or complete disappearance of detectable cancer.
- 61% of patients experienced stable or slightly improved cancer.
- Patients survived without cancer progression for a median of 11 months.
- 45% of patients survived for at least one year without cancer progression.
- 24% of patients survived for at least two years without cancer progression.
- Overall, 58% of patients survived for at least two years.
- Treatment was well tolerated.
The researchers concluded that the combination of Tarceva and Avastin appears to be a promising approach for the treatment of metastatic RCC. Treatment with a combination of these two drugs appears to produce better survival than treatment with either drug alone.
Reference: Hainsworth J, Spigel D, Greco A. Combination Therapy with Bevacizumab and Erlotinib for Patients with Metastatic Clear Cell Renal Carcinoma. Proceedings from the 23rd annual Chemotherapy Foundation Symposium. New York. 2005; Abstract #22.