Two TKIs go head-to-head in squamous cell carcinoma of the lung study

June 3, 2015

In patients with advanced squamous cell carcinoma (SCC), afatinib significantly improved overall survival (OS) compared to erlotinib, according to data presented at the 2015 American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Annual Meeting in Chicago.

In patients with advanced squamous cell carcinoma (SCC), afatinib significantly improved overall survival (OS) compared to erlotinib, according to data presented at the 2015 American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Annual Meeting in Chicago.

The LUX-Lung 8 trial directly compared the efficacy and safety of 2 EGFR-directed treatments, afatinib and erlotinib, in patients with advanced SCC of the lung, previously treated with first-line chemotherapy. Patients were randomly assigned to receive afatinib (40 mg per day) or erlotinib (150 mg per day). Treatment with afatinib significantly reduced the risk of death by 19%, extending the survival of patients to a median of 7.9 months compared to 6.8 months on erlotinib.

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The trial’s primary end point was progression-free survival (PFS) and its secondary end point was overall survival. Significantly more patients treated with afatinib were still alive at 1 year compared to those treated with erlotinib (36.4% vs. 28.2%).

Afatinib significantly delayed the progression of lung cancer and improved control of cancer-related cough and shortness of breath compared to erlotinib. The overall rate of severe adverse events was similar between both therapies, with differences observed in the incidence of certain side effects.

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LUX-Lung 8 was conducted across 23 countries and is the first prospective trial to compare 2 different tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs) in patients with advanced SCC of the lung (n=795).

Dr Gadgeel“Expanding on the findings of the study mentioned above, a main take-away point is that afatinib showed superior overall survival compared to erlotinib and is therefore a viable option for patients with this devastating disease,” said Shirish Gadgeel, MD, leader of the Thoracic Oncology Multidisciplinary Team at the Karmanos Cancer Center, Detroit.

“Furthermore, a significant delay in lung cancer progression was observed with afatinib, and patients reported improvement in cancer-related symptoms and in their overall quality of life,” Dr Gadgeel said.

“The scientific community has made great strides in understanding the biology and genetic differences of lung cancer in recent years,” he continued. “These findings are good news for patients affected by SCC of the lung for which there are few treatment options to offer.”

Treatment options have previously been limited for patients with SCC of the lung and the disease is associated with a poor prognosis, with less than 5% of patients surviving for 5 years or longer.

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