Biological therapy and other novel therapies in early-stage disease: are they appropriate?

Department of Medical Oncology, Mayo Clinic College of Medicine, Rochester, MN 55905, USA.

For nearly two decades, adjuvant chemotherapy has been the standard of care in patients with early-stage colon cancer at high risk of recurrence. Until now, treatment has been based on the use of cytotoxic drugs that have well-demonstrated efficacy in advanced colorectal cancer. Most recently, targeted biological agents [i.e., antibodies against the epidermal growth factor receptor and vascular endothelial growth factor] have become essential components of the palliative medical treatment of colorectal cancer. Proof of efficacy of these agents in advanced disease has led to the initiation of several trials testing epidermal growth factor receptor and vascular endothelial growth factor antibodies in the adjuvant setting. Although definitive results of ongoing adjuvant studies will not be available for 2 to 3 years, some oncologists might already inappropriately consider the use of these targeted agents as a component of adjuvant therapy in selected patients. Whether the results obtained in advanced colorectal cancer can be readily translated into a projected efficacy in early-stage colon cancer, however, is unclear. In addition, the long-term safety of biological agents in potentially surgically cured patients has not yet been established. This review discusses the potential caveats and concerns associated with the uncritical use of targeted agents as adjuvant therapy before their safety and efficacy in this setting has been indisputably established in definitive phase III trials.

PMID: 18006799 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]

Cetuximab en el tratamiento de cancer colo-rectal

Background Cetuximab, an IgG1 chimeric monoclonal antibody against epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR), has activity against colorectal cancers that express EGFR.

Methods From December 2003 to August 2005, 572 patients who had colorectal cancer expressing immunohistochemically detectable EGFR and who had been previously treated with a fluoropyrimidine, irinotecan, and oxaliplatin or had contraindications to treatment with these drugs underwent randomization to an initial dose of 400 mg of cetuximab per square meter of body-surface area followed by a weekly infusion of 250 mg per square meter plus best supportive care (287 patients) or best supportive care alone (285 patients). The primary end point was overall survival.

Results In comparison with best supportive care alone, cetuximab treatment was associated with a significant improvement in overall survival (hazard ratio for death, 0.77; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.64 to 0.92; P=0.005) and in progression-free survival (hazard ratio for disease progression or death, 0.68; 95% CI, 0.57 to 0.80; P<0.001). These benefits were robust after adjustment in a multivariable Cox proportional-hazards model. The median overall survival was 6.1 months in the cetuximab group and 4.6 months in the group assigned to supportive care alone. Partial responses occurred in 23 patients (8.0%) in the cetuximab group but in none in the group assigned to supportive care alone (P<0.001); the disease was stable in an additional 31.4% of patients assigned to cetuximab and in 10.9% of patients assigned to supportive care alone (P<0.001). Quality of life was better preserved in the cetuximab group, with less deterioration in physical function and global health status scores (both P<0.05). Cetuximab treatment was associated with a characteristic rash; a rash of grade 2 or higher was strongly associated with improved survival (hazard ratio for death, 0.33; 95% CI, 0.22 to 0.50; P<0.001). The incidence of any adverse event of grade 3 or higher was 78.5% in the cetuximab group and 59.1% in the group assigned to supportive care alone (P<0.001).

Conclusions Cetuximab improves overall survival and progression-free survival and preserves quality-of-life measures in patients with colorectal cancer in whom other treatments have failed. ( number, NCT00079066 [] .)

Texto Completo  PDF