Gefitinib and erlotinib, small-molecule kinase inhibitors that block epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) signaling, have demonstrated a dramatic response rate and prolonged progression-free survival (PFS) in patients harboring an activating EGFR mutation. We compared the clinical outcomes in gefitinib- and erlotinib-treated patients harboring EGFR mutations who had recurrent or metastatic non–small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC).
A total of 375 patients with recurrent or metastatic stage IIIB/IV NSCLC, who had either exon 19 deletion or the L858R mutation in exon 21, and had received either gefitinib (n = 228) or erlotinib (n = 147), were included in the study. A matched-pair case-control study design was implemented in the analysis, where 121 pairs of gefitinib-treated and erlotinib-treated patients were matched according to sex, smoking history, Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group performance status, and types of EGFR mutation.
The median age of all patients was 58 years (range, 30–84), and more than half of patients had never been smokers (63.6%). Most patients had adenocarcinoma (98.3%) and good Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group performance status (0, 1) (90.9%). The median number of cycles of EGFR tyrosine kinase inhibitor (TKI) treatment was 12.7 in the gefitinib group and 10.8 in the erlotinib group. Of the 242 patients, 63 (26%) received EGFR TKI as first-line therapy. The overall response rates and disease control rates in the gefitinib- or erlotinib-treated groups were 76.9% versus 74.4% (p = 0.575) and 90.1% versus 86.8%, respectively (p = 0.305). There was no statistically significant difference with regard to PFS (median, 11.7 versus 9.6; p = 0.056) between the gefitinib- and erlotinib-treated groups. For patients receiving EGFR TKI as the first-line treatment, there was no significant difference between the two treatment groups in overall response rates (76.7% and 90.0%) (p = 0.431) and median PFS (11.7 versus 14.5 months) (p = 0.507).
In NSCLC patients harboring EGFR mutation, treatment with gefitinib and erlotinib resulted in similar effectiveness.