In a recent study published in the journal Clinical Medical Insights: Oncology, a team of researchers from the University of Cincinnati found that gefitinib, an FDA approved therapy, could be potentially used in the treatment of advanced lung cancer in older patients and African American patients who may not be eligible to receive chemotherapy.
Gefitinib, is a drug that can disrupt signaling pathways, acting through the epidermal growth factor receptor (EFGR). It is commonly used to inhibit tumor progression, and this study highlighted its possible use in patients diagnosed with non-small cell lung cancer who do not have many treatment options.
“The epidermal growth factor receptor has been found in higher quantities in a variety of solid tumors, including non-small cell lung cancer,” lead study author Nagla Karim, MD, PhD, associate professor in the division of hematology oncology at the UC College of Medicine and member of the Cincinnati Cancer Center and the UC Cancer Institute, said in a news release. “Gefitinib is a safe oral agent that may be of benefit to a specific population of these patients. Improving the quality of life for patients with this type of lung cancer is an important goal as there is currently no beneficial treatment for them and chemotherapy is often not an option because of their poor health status.”
The team of researchers designed a Phase II clinical trial where they followed 12 patients who had advanced non-small cell lung cancer, a poor performance status and were chemonaïve (did not receive chemotherapy). The trial endpoints included response rate, progression-free survival (PFS), overall survival (OS) and quality of life, which were assessed using Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapy – Lung (FACT-L) questionnaire, and Trial Outcome Index (TOI).
The results demonstrated that the average OS was close to 5 months, PFS was roughly 3 months and quality of life outcomes were better in african americans compared with caucasians as well as older patients.
“Gefitnib is an overall active and well-tolerated therapy for this subgroup of patients with a poor prognosis and was found to improve quality of life,” Dr. Karim explained. “In spite of the small number of patients in the study, our results suggest that older patients and those who were African Americans had higher quality of life scores and felt this treatment improved their outcomes. This study may provide evidence that gefitnib could be an option for therapy in this subgroup of patients for which chemotherapy is not recommended.”