Two-year disease-free survival (DFS) for 88% of cases, more than half of surviving patients showing no evidence of disease at 5 years, considerably fewer recurrences, durable benefits even for patients rechallenged – these are the accomplishments of Erlotinib (Tarceva), one of the most promising EGFR-mutant non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) treatments available.
Initial trials took place between January 2008 and May 2012 and had 100 participants. They were treated with Erlotinib 150 mg per day for 2 years after standard adjuvant chemotherapy with or without radiotherapy. Throughout the program, toxicity levels were medium to low, with some patients requiring lower doses. DFS was 56% and there were only four recurrence during Erlotinib treatment. The median time to recurrence was 25 months after stopping treatment.
EGFR mutations are the most common actionable somatic alteration in NSCLC, present in about 15% of lung adenocarcinomas diagnosed in the United States and in as many as 50% of lung adenocarcinomas in Asia. For metastatic situations, the EGFR inhibitor Erlotinib produced higher response rates and better progression-free survival as compared to platinum-based chemotherapy.
Out of the approximately 160,000 new cases of newly diagnosed NSCLC each year, only one third are suitable candidates for surgery. Among them, recurrence rate can go from 10% for patients with stage IA disease to as high 75% for patients with stage IIIB NSCLC.
NSCLC is the most common type of lung cancer, accounting for about 80-85% of cases, and one of the leading causes of cancer-related deaths worldwide. This treatment provides significant improvements over most other therapies and continues to save countless lives with every day that passes.