No OS Benefit With Gefitinib vs Chemo for EGFR + NSCLC

Sharon Worcester

June 12, 2020

Adjuvant gefitinib provides no overall survival (OS) benefit over standard chemotherapy for EGFR-mutant, resected, stage II-IIIA non–small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), according to final results from the phase 3 ADJUVANT trial.

The median OS was 75.5 months in patients randomized to adjuvant gefitinib and 62.8 months in patients randomized to vinorelbine plus cisplatin.

Yi-Long Wu, MD, of Guangdong Lung Cancer Institute in Guangzhou, China, reported these results as part of the American Society of Clinical Oncology virtual scientific program.

Prior results from this trial had shown a disease-free survival (DFS) benefit with gefitinib, but this did not translate to an OS benefit at the final analysis, Dr. Wu said.

He noted, however, that the median OS of 75.5 months in the gefitinib arm "was one of the best in resected EGFR-mutant non–small cell lung cancer, compared with historical data."

The findings also suggest a possible benefit with at least 18 months of gefitinib and show that adjuvant EGFR tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs) should be considered the optimal therapy to improve DFS and achieve potentially better OS in this setting, Dr. Wu said.

Study Details and DFS

The ADJUVANT trial (NCT01405079) randomized 222 patients, aged 18-75 years, with EGFR-mutant, stage II-IIIA (N1-N2) NSCLC who had undergone complete resection. Patients were enrolled at 27 sites between September 2011 and April 2014.

The patients were randomized 1:1 to receive 250 mg of gefitinib once daily for 24 months, or 25 mg/m2 of vinorelbine on days 1 and 8 plus 75 mg/m2 of cisplatin on day 1 every 3 weeks for 4 cycles.

The intent-to-treat (ITT) population included 111 patients in each arm. The per-protocol population included 106 patients in the gefitinib arm and 87 patients in the chemotherapy arm.

Primary results from this trial showed a significant improvement in DFS with gefitinib (Lancet Oncol. 2018 Jan;19[1]:139-48). That improvement was maintained in the final analysis.

The median DFS was 30.8 months in the gefitinib arm and 19.8 months in the chemotherapy arm for both the ITT and per-protocol populations. The hazard ratio (HR) was 0.56 (P = .001) in the ITT population and 0.51 (P < .001) in the per-protocol population.

In the ITT population, the 5-year DFS rates were 22.6% in the gefitinib arm and 23.2% in the chemotherapy arm. In the per-protocol population, the 5-year DFS rates were 22.6% and 22.8%, respectively.

OS Results

The median OS was 75.5 months in the gefitinib arm and 62.8 months in the chemotherapy arm for both the ITT and per-protocol populations. The HR was 0.92 in both the ITT (P = .674) and per-protocol populations (P = .686).

In the ITT population, the 5-year OS rates were 53.2% in the gefitinib arm and 51.2% in the chemotherapy arm. In the per-protocol population, the 5-year OS rates were 53.2% and 50.7%, respectively.

Subgroup analyses by age, gender, lymph node status, and EGFR mutation showed trends toward improved OS with gefitinib, but the differences were not statistically significant.

The researchers conducted a post hoc analysis to assess the effect of subsequent treatment on patient outcomes. The analysis showed that patients who received gefitinib with subsequent EGFR-TKIs had the best responses and OS.

The median OS was not reached among patients who received gefitinib and subsequent EGFR-TKIs, whereas the median OS ranged from 15.6 months to 62.8 months in other groups. The shortest OS was observed in patients who received adjuvant chemotherapy without subsequent therapy.

The duration of gefitinib treatment also appeared to affect OS. The median OS was 35.7 months in patients who received gefitinib for less than 18 months, and the median OS was not reached in patients who received gefitinib for 18 months or longer (HR, 0.38; P < .001).

Implications and Potential Next Steps

Despite the lack of OS improvement with gefitinib, "all of the patients on this study did much, much better than historical non–small cell lung cancer not specified by the EGFR mutation, with 70 months median survival compared to 35 months median survival for N2-positive disease," said invited discussant Christopher G. Azzoli, MD, director of thoracic oncology at Lifespan Cancer Institute at Brown University in Providence, R.I.

"But you can't avoid noticing how the curves come back together in terms of disease-free survival when your effective treatment is limited to 24 months," he added.

An apparent risk of late brain recurrence in the gefitinib arm is also a concern, Dr. Azzoli said. "So ... longer duration of treatment with a drug that has better control of CNS [central nervous system] disease, such as osimertinib, may improve both DFS and OS," he added.

Only about 50% of patients in the chemotherapy arm received a TKI at recurrence. The post hoc analysis showing that TKI recipients had the best outcomes raises the question of whether "the survival benefit could be conferred by delivering a superior drug merely at recurrence, or is there benefit to earlier delivery of an effective drug," Dr. Azzoli said.

Given the high cost of continuous therapy, biomarker refinement could help improve treatment decision-making, he said, noting that "early testing of blood DNA to detect cancer in the body as minimal residual disease is showing promise," and that many phase 3 studies of EGFR-TKIs are ongoing.

The current trial was sponsored by the Guangdong Association of Clinical Trials. Dr. Wu disclosed relationships with AstraZeneca, Boehringer Ingelheim, Bristol-Myers Squibb/China, Lilly, MSD Oncology, Pfizer, and Roche. Dr. Azzoli reported having no disclosures.

SOURCE: Wu Y et al. ASCO 2020, Abstract 9005.

This story originally appeared on MDedge.com.

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