The American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) said results of a Phase III clinical trial of the targeted therapy gefitinib in patients with epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR)-positive, stage II-IIIA non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) showed it was more effective in preventing recurrence after lung cancer surgery than chemotherapy.
In the study, 222 patients whose tumors had EGFR mutations were randomly selected after surgery for treatment with either gefitinib or standard chemotherapy of vinorelbine plus cisplatin. The gefitinib treatment lasted 24 months. The standard chemotherapy treatment lasted for four three-week cycles. The patients were followed for approximately three years.
The study showed that treating with gefitinib resulted in a median time of disease-free survival of 28.7 months. The patients who received chemotherapy saw a median time of 18 months. During the study, 76 patients died; 41 in the gefitnib and 35 in the chemotherapy groups, the ASCO release said.
“This study identifies a subset of patients with lung cancer who can benefit from a targeted treatment that causes far fewer side effects than chemotherapy,” ASCO President-elect Bruce Johnson said in the release. “It’s also clear evidence that we can use precision medicine not only in patients with advanced cancer, but also in those with earlier stage disease.”
Previous studies on gefitinib included cancer patients in stages I, II and III, but did not look at the activating EGFR mutations. Those studies did not show the same positive results in treating NSCLC.