EGFR expression as a predictor of survival for first-line chemotherapy plus cetuximab in patients with advanced non-small-cell lung cancer : analysis of data from the phase 3 FLEX study

Pirker, Robert, Pereira, Jose R., von Pawel, Joachim, Krzakowski, Maciej, Ramlau, Rodryg, Park, Keunchil, de Marinis, Filippo, Eberhardt, Wilfried E. , Paz-Ares, Luis, Störkel, Stephan, Schumacher, Karl-Maria, Von Heydebreck, Anya, Celik, Ilhan, & O'Byrne, Kenneth J. (2012) EGFR expression as a predictor of survival for first-line chemotherapy plus cetuximab in patients with advanced non-small-cell lung cancer : analysis of data from the phase 3 FLEX study. The Lancet Oncology, 13(1), pp. 33-42.

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Background: Findings from the phase 3 First-Line ErbituX in lung cancer (FLEX) study showed that the addition of cetuximab to first-line chemotherapy significantly improved overall survival compared with chemotherapy alone (hazard ratio [HR] 0·871, 95% CI 0·762-0·996; p=0·044) in patients with advanced non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC). To define patients benefiting most from cetuximab, we studied the association of tumour EGFR expression level with clinical outcome in FLEX study patients.

Methods: We used prospectively collected tumour EGFR expression data to generate an immunohistochemistry score for FLEX study patients on a continuous scale of 0-300. We used response data to select an outcome-based discriminatory threshold immunohistochemistry score for EGFR expression of 200. Treatment outcome was analysed in patients with low (immunohistochemistry score <200) and high (≥200) tumour EGFR expression. The primary endpoint in the FLEX study was overall survival. We analysed patients from the FLEX intention-to-treat (ITT) population. The FLEX study is registered with, number NCT00148798.

Findings: Tumour EGFR immunohistochemistry data were available for 1121 of 1125 (99·6%) patients from the FLEX study ITT population. High EGFR expression was scored for 345 (31%) evaluable patients and low for 776 (69%) patients. For patients in the high EGFR expression group, overall survival was longer in the chemotherapy plus cetuximab group than in the chemotherapy alone group (median 12·0 months [95% CI 10·2-15·2] vs 9·6 months [7·6-10·6]; HR 0·73, 0·58-0·93; p=0·011), with no meaningful increase in side-effects. We recorded no corresponding survival benefit for patients in the low EGFR expression group (median 9·8 months [8·9-12·2] vs 10·3 months [9·2-11·5]; HR 0·99, 0·84-1·16; p=0·88). A treatment interaction test assessing the difference in the HRs for overall survival between the EGFR expression groups suggested a predictive value for EGFR expression (p=0·044).

Interpretation: High EGFR expression is a tumour biomarker that can predict survival benefit from the addition of cetuximab to first-line chemotherapy in patients with advanced NSCLC. Assessment of EGFR expression could offer a personalised treatment approach in this setting. Funding: Merck KGaA. © 2012 Elsevier Ltd.

Impact and interest:

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ID Code: 65349
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Additional URLs:
Keywords: cetuximab, cisplatin, epidermal growth factor receptor, navelbine, acne, adult, advanced cancer, aged, anemia, article, cancer combination chemotherapy, cancer survival, chemotherapy induced emesis, controlled study, drug efficacy, drug eruption, drug potentiation, drug safety, dyspnea, fatigue, febrile neutropenia, female, heart disease, human, human tissue, hypokalemia, immunohistochemistry, injection site reaction, leukocyte, leukopenia, lung non small cell cancer, major clinical study, male, monotherapy, multiple cycle treatment, neutropenia, overall survival, phase 3 clinical trial, priority journal, prognosis, progression free survival, protein expression, rating scale, scoring system, sepsis, side effect, survival rate, survival time, thromboembolism, treatment outcome, Adolescent, Aged, 80 and over, Antibodies, Monoclonal, Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols, Brazil, Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung, Disease-Free Survival, Europe, Humans, Kaplan-Meier Estimate, Lung Neoplasms, Middle Aged, Odds Ratio, Patient Selection, Proportional Hazards Models, Prospective Studies, Protein Kinase Inhibitors, Receptor, Epidermal Growth Factor, Republic of Korea, Risk Assessment, Risk Factors, Time Factors, Tumor Markers, Biological, Up-Regulation, Vinblastine, Young Adult
DOI: 10.1016/S1470-2045(11)70318-7
ISSN: 1470-2045
Divisions: Current > Schools > School of Biomedical Sciences
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Health
Current > Institutes > Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2012 The Lancet Publishing Group
Deposited On: 12 Dec 2013 04:21
Last Modified: 17 Mar 2014 00:04

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