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Keywords:

  • non–small cell lung cancer;
  • pemetrexed;
  • erlotinib;
  • pretreated patients;
  • EGFR mutation;
  • KRAS mutation

BACKGROUND

In this superiority study, pemetrexed was compared with erlotinib in pre-treated patients with metastatic non–small cell lung cancer (NSCLC).

METHODS

Patients with stage IIIB/IV NSCLC who progressed after first-line or second-line treatment were randomized to receive either pemetrexed or erlotinib. In total, 21.7% of patients in the pemetrexed arm and 23.5% of patients in the erlotinib arm had squamous cell histology, and treatment was third line in 39.2% and 46.4% of patients, respectively. The primary study endpoint was time to tumor progression (TTP). Epidermal growth factor receptor/v-Ki-ras2 Kirsten rat sarcoma viral oncogene homolog (EGFR/KRAS) mutation status also was investigated.

RESULTS

There was no difference in terms of the TTP (P = .195), the objective response rate (P = .469), or overall survival (P = .986) between the 2 treatment arms. In patients who had squamous cell histology, erlotinib resulted in a superior TTP compared with pemetrexed (4.1 months vs 2.5 months, respectively; P = .006). The incidence of grade 3 and 4 neutropenia, thrombocytopenia, and asthenia was significantly higher in the pemetrexed arm, whereas the incidence of grade 3 and 4 skin rash was higher in the erlotinib arm.

CONCLUSIONS

Both pemetrexed and erlotinib had comparable efficacy in pre-treated patients with metastatic NSCLC, and the current results indicated that genotyping of tumor cells may have an important effect on treatment efficacy. Cancer 2013;119:2754–2764. © 2013 American Cancer Society.