In a nutshell
This study evaluated the effectiveness of adding cetuximab (Erbitux) to standard chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatment for advanced non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). This study found that adding cetuximab to chemotherapy and radiotherapy resulted in promising outcomes.
NSCLC is the most common type of lung cancer. Tumor removal by surgery is the standard of care for patients with NSCLC. Before surgery, other treatments may be recommended. One option is to combine radiotherapy and chemotherapy. Another option is targeted therapy. This type of treatment specifically targets cancer cells. This can reduce side effects.
Cetuximab is a monoclonal antibody. This type of targeted therapy helps the body's immune system attack cancer cells. Cetuximab may also make cancer cells more sensitive to chemotherapy and radiotherapy. This leads to cancer cell death. Whether cetuximab combined with chemotherapy and radiotherapy is effective for advanced NSCLC remains unclear.
Methods & findings
This study included 69 patients with stage IIIB NSCLC. All patients had three cycles of chemotherapy plus cetuximab. Then, 63 patients received radiotherapy plus cetuximab. 83% of patients then underwent surgery to remove the tumors. Patients were followed-up for an average of 32 months.
Overall, 29% of all patients had a complete disappearance of all signs of cancer. 57% of patients treated with cetuximab and chemotherapy responded to treatment. 64% of patients treated with cetuximab, chemotherapy, and radiotherapy responded to treatment.
On average, patients survived for 21.3 months. 70% of patients were still alive 1 year after treatment. This rate was 41% at 2 years, and 30% at 3 years.
On average, patients remained alive for an average of 12 months without tumor growth or spread. At 1 year, 50% of patients were still alive without tumor growth or spread.
33% of patients treated with cetuximab and chemotherapy experienced severely low white blood cell count. Severe rash (16%) and diarrhea (15%) were also reported.
The bottom line
The study concluded that adding cetuximab to chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatment for patients with advanced NSCLC was effective.
The fine print
This was a very small study. A control group of patients who did not receive cetuximab was not included. This may limit the conclusions that may be drawn from these results. More studies are needed to confirm these results.
Published By :
British Journal of Cancer
Apr 16, 2019