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      Tolerability and Outcomes of First-Line Pemetrexed-Cisplatin Followed by Gefitinib Maintenance Therapy Versus Gefitinib Monotherapy in Korean Patients with Advanced Nonsquamous Non-small Cell Lung Cancer: A Post Hoc Descriptive Subgroup Analysis of a Randomized, Phase 3 Trial

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          We recently reported on a randomized, open-label, phase 3 trial comparing pemetrexed-cisplatin chemotherapy followed by gefitinib maintenance therapy (PC/G) with gefitinib monotherapy in patients with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). Here, we report on a post hoc subgroup analysis of that study assessing the demographics and disposition of the Korean patient subgroup, and comparing the tolerability of PC/G and gefitinib monotherapy and the tumor response with respect to epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) status.

          Materials and Methods

          Patients, who were ≥ 18 years, chemonaïve, Korean, light ex-smokers/never-smokers with advanced NSCLC, were randomly assigned (1:1) to PC/G or gefitinib monotherapy. Treatment-emergent adverse events (TEAEs) were graded, and tumor response was measured as change in lesion sum from baseline at best response. The study was registered with ClinicalTrials. gov, NCT01017874.


          Overall, 111 Korean patients were treated (PC/G, 51; gefitinib, 60). Between-arm characteristics were balanced and similar to those of the overall population. Treatment discontinuations due to adverse events were low (PC/G: 1, 2.0%; gefitinib: 7, 11.7%). Overall, 92 patients (82.9%) reported ≥ 1 TEAE (PC/G, 44; gefitinib, 48); few patients (PC/G, 16; gefitinib, 7) reported severe TEAEs; the most frequent was neutropenia (PC/G arm) and elevated alanine aminotransferase (gefitinib arm). The lesion sum was decreased by PC/G treatment in most patients, regardless of EGFR mutation status, while gefitinib monotherapy reduced the lesion sum in EGFR-positive patients but had no effect in EGFR-negative patients.


          Our results confirm that both PC/G and gefitinib were well tolerated in Korean patients, regardless of EGFR status; however, patients with EGFR wild-type NSCLC may not benefit from gefitinib monotherapy.

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          Most cited references 9

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          Gefitinib or carboplatin-paclitaxel in pulmonary adenocarcinoma.

          Previous, uncontrolled studies have suggested that first-line treatment with gefitinib would be efficacious in selected patients with non-small-cell lung cancer. In this phase 3, open-label study, we randomly assigned previously untreated patients in East Asia who had advanced pulmonary adenocarcinoma and who were nonsmokers or former light smokers to receive gefitinib (250 mg per day) (609 patients) or carboplatin (at a dose calculated to produce an area under the curve of 5 or 6 mg per milliliter per minute) plus paclitaxel (200 mg per square meter of body-surface area) (608 patients). The primary end point was progression-free survival. The 12-month rates of progression-free survival were 24.9% with gefitinib and 6.7% with carboplatin-paclitaxel. The study met its primary objective of showing the noninferiority of gefitinib and also showed its superiority, as compared with carboplatin-paclitaxel, with respect to progression-free survival in the intention-to-treat population (hazard ratio for progression or death, 0.74; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.65 to 0.85; P<0.001). In the subgroup of 261 patients who were positive for the epidermal growth factor receptor gene (EGFR) mutation, progression-free survival was significantly longer among those who received gefitinib than among those who received carboplatin-paclitaxel (hazard ratio for progression or death, 0.48; 95% CI, 0.36 to 0.64; P<0.001), whereas in the subgroup of 176 patients who were negative for the mutation, progression-free survival was significantly longer among those who received carboplatin-paclitaxel (hazard ratio for progression or death with gefitinib, 2.85; 95% CI, 2.05 to 3.98; P<0.001). The most common adverse events were rash or acne (in 66.2% of patients) and diarrhea (46.6%) in the gefitinib group and neurotoxic effects (69.9%), neutropenia (67.1%), and alopecia (58.4%) in the carboplatin-paclitaxel group. Gefitinib is superior to carboplatin-paclitaxel as an initial treatment for pulmonary adenocarcinoma among nonsmokers or former light smokers in East Asia. The presence in the tumor of a mutation of the EGFR gene is a strong predictor of a better outcome with gefitinib. ( number, NCT00322452.) 2009 Massachusetts Medical Society
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            American Society of Clinical Oncology Clinical Practice Guideline update on chemotherapy for stage IV non-small-cell lung cancer.

            The purpose of this article is to provide updated recommendations for the treatment of patients with stage IV non-small-cell lung cancer. A literature search identified relevant randomized trials published since 2002. The scope of the guideline was narrowed to chemotherapy and biologic therapy. An Update Committee reviewed the literature and made updated recommendations. One hundred sixty-two publications met the inclusion criteria. Recommendations were based on treatment strategies that improve overall survival. Treatments that improve only progression-free survival prompted scrutiny of toxicity and quality of life. For first-line therapy in patients with performance status of 0 or 1, a platinum-based two-drug combination of cytotoxic drugs is recommended. Nonplatinum cytotoxic doublets are acceptable for patients with contraindications to platinum therapy. For patients with performance status of 2, a single cytotoxic drug is sufficient. Stop first-line cytotoxic chemotherapy at disease progression or after four cycles in patients who are not responding to treatment. Stop two-drug cytotoxic chemotherapy at six cycles even in patients who are responding to therapy. The first-line use of gefitinib may be recommended for patients with known epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) mutation; for negative or unknown EGFR mutation status, cytotoxic chemotherapy is preferred. Bevacizumab is recommended with carboplatin-paclitaxel, except for patients with certain clinical characteristics. Cetuximab is recommended with cisplatin-vinorelbine for patients with EGFR-positive tumors by immunohistochemistry. Docetaxel, erlotinib, gefitinib, or pemetrexed is recommended as second-line therapy. Erlotinib is recommended as third-line therapy for patients who have not received prior erlotinib or gefitinib. Data are insufficient to recommend the routine third-line use of cytotoxic drugs. Data are insufficient to recommend routine use of molecular markers to select chemotherapy.
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              Molecular testing guideline for selection of lung cancer patients for EGFR and ALK tyrosine kinase inhibitors: guideline from the College of American Pathologists, International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer, and Association for Molecular Pathology.

              To establish evidence-based recommendations for the molecular analysis of lung cancers that are required to guide EGFR- and ALK-directed therapies, addressing which patients and samples should be tested, and when and how testing should be performed. Three cochairs without conflicts of interest were selected, one from each of the 3 sponsoring professional societies: College of American Pathologists, International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer, and Association for Molecular Pathology. Writing and advisory panels were constituted from additional experts from these societies. Three unbiased literature searches of electronic databases were performed to capture articles published from January 2004 through February 2012, yielding 1533 articles whose abstracts were screened to identify 521 pertinent articles that were then reviewed in detail for their relevance to the recommendations. Evidence was formally graded for each recommendation. Initial recommendations were formulated by the cochairs and panel members at a public meeting. Each guideline section was assigned to at least 2 panelists. Drafts were circulated to the writing panel (version 1), advisory panel (version 2), and the public (version 3) before submission (version 4). The 37 guideline items address 14 subjects, including 15 recommendations (evidence grade A/B). The major recommendations are to use testing for EGFR mutations and ALK fusions to guide patient selection for therapy with an epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) or anaplastic lymphoma kinase (ALK) inhibitor, respectively, in all patients with advanced-stage adenocarcinoma, regardless of sex, race, smoking history, or other clinical risk factors, and to prioritize EGFR and ALK testing over other molecular predictive tests. As scientific discoveries and clinical practice outpace the completion of randomized clinical trials, evidence-based guidelines developed by expert practitioners are vital for communicating emerging clinical standards. Already, new treatments targeting genetic alterations in other, less common driver oncogenes are being evaluated in lung cancer, and testing for these may be addressed in future versions of these guidelines.

                Author and article information

                Cancer Res Treat
                Cancer Res Treat
                Cancer Research and Treatment : Official Journal of Korean Cancer Association
                Korean Cancer Association
                April 2016
                14 October 2015
                : 48
                : 2
                : 458-464
                [1 ]Division of Hematology-Oncology, Department of Medicine, Seoul St. Mary’s Hospital, Seoul, Korea
                [2 ]Division of Hematology-Oncology, Department of Medicine, Samsung Medical Center, Seoul, Korea
                [3 ]Division of Hematology-Oncology, Department of Medicine, Seoul National University Hospital, Seoul, Korea
                [4 ]Division of Hematology-Oncology, Department of Medicine, Gachon University Gil Hospital, Incheon, Korea
                [5 ]Division of Hematology-Oncology, Department of Medicine, Yonsei Cancer Center, Yonsei University College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea
                [6 ]Division of Hematology-Oncology, Department of Medicine, Korea University Anam Hospital, Seoul, Korea
                [7 ]Eli Lilly and Company, Shanghai, China
                [8 ]Eli Lilly and Company, Seoul, Korea
                [9 ]Eli Lilly Interamerica Inc., Buenos Aires, Argentina
                Author notes
                Correspondence: Keunchil Park, MD, PhD  Division of Hematology-Oncology, Department of Medicine, Samsung Medical Center, Sungkyunkwan University School of Medicine, 81 Irwon-ro, Gangnam-gu, Seoul 06351, Korea  Tel: 82-2-3410-3450 Fax: 82-2-3410-1754 E-mail: keunchil.park@
                Copyright © 2016 by the Korean Cancer Association

                This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License ( which permits unrestricted non-commercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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