What is the role of cetuximab in the treatment of non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC)?

Updated: Aug 21, 2019
  • Author: Maurie Markman, MD, MS; Chief Editor: Keith K Vaux, MD  more...
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In contrast to the clear link between EGFR mutation status and EGFR-TKI response, the presence of EGFR mutations does not appear to predict response to treatment with the EGFR monoclonal antibody cetuximab. Data from the phase III First-Line Erbitux in Lung Cancer (FLEX) trial, which randomized patients to cisplatin/vinorelbine with or without cetuximab, showed that the presence of a mutation was not predictive of response to treatment. However, post hoc analysis showed that high expression of EGFR proteins on immunohistochemistry (IHC) was predictive of response to cetuximab plus chemotherapy vs chemotherapy alone. [24, 25]

An ongoing study evaluating the use of carboplatin and paclitaxel with or without bevacizumab and/or cetuximab in patients with metastatic or recurrent NSCLC will examine prospectively whether high EGFR protein expression can be used as a predictor of treatment response to cetuximab. Until then, the potential benefit of EGFR protein expression by IHC or EGFR gene amplification by fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) remains unclear. Cetuximab is FDA-approved for colorectal cancer and for head and neck cancer. It is not yet approved by the FDA for NSCLC.

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