In a nutshell
This study investigated the effectiveness of cetuximab (Erbitux) in combination with chemotherapy for the treatment of advanced colorectal cancer (CRC). Researchers suggested that this combined treatment improves the outcomes of patients with CRC.
CRC is one of the most common cancers worldwide. Around 15 to 25% of patients present with metastatic disease (spread to other parts of the body) at diagnosis. As a result, 50% of patients are inoperable. Chemotherapy in advanced cases is of limited effectiveness and is associated with high rates of side effects.
Other agents such as cetuximab might be added to the treatment to make it stronger. Cetuximab is a targeted therapy agent. It targets and attacks a protein on cancer cells and stops tumor growth. The combination of cetuximab and chemotherapy is currently the standard therapy for first-line treatment in advanced CRC with abnormal genes. However, the effectiveness of this treatment is still limited to about 30% of patients. Despite its clinical application, its effectiveness and safety are not fully clear.
Methods & findings
This study reviewed 12 other studies regarding the use of chemotherapy with or without cetuximab in patients with advanced CRC. It included information about 7,108 patients overall. All these patients received chemotherapy with (3521) and without (3587) cetuximab.
Progression-free survival (PFS: time from treatment to progression) and overall survival (OS; time from treatment to any cause of death) were assessed. Disease control rate and response rate were also evaluated.
The chemotherapy alone group had a shorter OS, PFS, and response rate compared to the cetuximab-chemotherapy group. The cetuximab-chemotherapy group had a 23% increase in the odds of a better PFS and a 12% increase for OS. These patients also had a 1.79 times higher chance of better tumor response compared to chemotherapy alone.
The bottom line
This study concluded that combining cetuximab with chemotherapy improves the outcomes of patients with advanced CRC compared to chemotherapy alone.
The fine print
The studies analyzed did not include information about the number of prior treatments. This might have affected the results.
Published By :
Frontiers in oncology
Jun 18, 2020
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