According to results recently published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, the treatment combination consisting of Avastin® (bevacizumab) and Tarceva™ (erlotinib) provides promising activity in patients with advanced non-small cell lung cancer that has recurred following previous treatment.
Lung cancer remains the leading cause of cancer deaths annually in the United States. Non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) refers to the type of cell within the lung from which the cancer originated and comprises approximately 75%-80% of all lung cancers. Once patients have recurred following chemotherapy, they are referred to as having recurrent NSCLC. Currently, treatment options are limited for patients with recurrent NSCLC and researchers continue to evaluate novel agents in the treatment of this disease.
Tarceva™ has recently been approved by the FDA for the treatment of patients with recurrent NSCLC. In addition, Avastin® is approved for the treatment of advanced colorectal cancer; however, a recent clinical trial has demonstrated that it appears to also improve survival in patients with advanced NSCLC. Both Tarceva™, an epidermal growth factor receptor tyrosine kinase inhibitor, and Avastin®, an agent targeted at the vascular endothelial growth factor pathway, target biologic pathways in the body that are involved in the growth and spread of cancer. Researchers have speculated that the combination of agents targeting these two pathways may provide improved results compared to single agents just targeting one of these pathways in the treatment of cancer.
Researchers from the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center and Vanderbilt Medical Center recently conducted a clinical trial evaluating the combination of Avastin® and Tarceva™ in the treatment of recurrent NSCLC. This trial included 40 patients who had advanced cancer and who had received at least one prior treatment regimen. Twenty-two patients had received two or more prior treatment regimens. Overall, 20% of patients experienced anti-cancer responses and 56% of patients achieved disease stabilization. The overall average survival of 34 patients treated at the dose and schedule that had been decided upon was over one year (12.6 months), with a progression-free survival of 6.2 months. Overall, treatment was generally well tolerated, with the most common side effects being mild to moderate skin rash, diarrhea, and protein in the urine.
The researchers concluded that the treatment combination of Avastin® and Tarceva™ appears promising for the treatment of recurrent NSCLC. Future trials will undoubtedly evaluate this combination further. Patients with recurrent NSCLC may wish to speak with their physician about the risks and benefits of participating in a clinical trial further evaluating Avastin® and Tarceva™ or other promising therapeutic approaches. Two sources of information regarding ongoing clinical trials include the National Cancer Institute (cancer.gov) and www.cancerconsultants.com.
Reference: Herbst R, Johnson D, Mininberg E, et al. Phase I/II Trial Evaluating the Anti-Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor Monoclonal Antibody Bevacizumab in Combination With the HER-1/Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor Tyrosine Kinase Inhibitor Erlotinib for Patients With Recurrent Non–Small-Cell Lung Cancer. Journal of Clinical Oncology. 2005;23:2544-2555.