Purpose: In a multicenter randomized phase II trial of gemcitabine (arm A), erlotinib (arm B), and gemcitabine and erlotinib (arm C), similar progression-free survival (PFS) and overall survival (OS) were observed in all arms. We performed an exploratory, blinded, retrospective analysis of plasma or serum samples collected as part of the trial to investigate the ability of VeriStrat (VS) to predict treatment outcomes.
Methods: Ninety-eight patients were assessable, and the majority had stage IV disease (81%), adenocarcinoma histology (63%), reported current or previous tobacco use (84%), and 26% had a performance status (PS) of 2.
Results: In arm A, patients with VS Good (n = 20) compared with VS Poor status (n = 8) had similar PFS (hazard ratio [HR]: 1.21; p = 0.67) and OS (HR: 0.82; p = 0.64). In arm B, patients with VS Good (n = 26) compared with VS Poor (n = 12) had a statistically significantly superior PFS (HR: 0.33; p = 0.002) and OS (HR: 0.40; p = 0.014). In arm C, patients with VS Good (n = 17) compared with Poor (n = 1 5) had a superior PFS (HR: 0.42; p = 0.027) and a trend toward superior OS (HR: 0.48; p = 0.051). In the multivariate analysis for PFS, VS status was statistically significant (p = 0.011); for OS, VS status (p = 0.017) and PS (p = 0.005) were statistically significant. A statistically significant VS and treatment interaction (gemcitabine versus erlotinib) was observed for PFS and OS.
Conclusions: Gemcitabine is the superior treatment for elderly patients with VS Poor status. First-line erlotinib for elderly patients with VS Good status may warrant further investigation.