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

Updated: Jul 15, 2021
  • Author: Winston W Tan, MD, FACP; Chief Editor: Nagla Abdel Karim, MD, PhD  more...
  • Print

Cetuximab, a monoclonal antibody that binds the EGFR receptor, is also used in colorectal cancer and squamous cell cancer (SCC) of the head and neck. It was studied in the first-line setting, in combination with cisplatin-vinorelbine, compared with cisplatin-vinorelbine alone, in patients with NSCLC that expressed EGFR by immunohistochemistry. [168]

The chemotherapy was given in combination with cetuximab for up to 6 cycles, and in responding patients, the cetuximab was continued until progression. Patients receiving cetuximab had an increased response rate (36% vs 29%), and improved median survival (11.3 vs 10.1 mo). Whites appeared to benefit more than Asian persons, who seemed to do worse with this regimen.

A phase 3 study found that the addition of cetuximab to first-line chemotherapy in patients with advanced NSCLC provided a survival benefit in patients with high EGFR expression (immunohistochemistry score ≥ 200), increasing overall survival from a median of 9.6 to 12.0 months. No corresponding survival benefit was seen in those with low EGFR expression. [169]

The cetuximab/cisplatin/vinorelbine chemotherapy regimen is not recommended by NCCN guidelines due to small benefit of 1 month, patient have por tolerance to this regimen and most patients have multiple comorbid conditions.

Did this answer your question?
Additional feedback? (Optional)
Thank you for your feedback!