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Gefitinib Comparable to Docetaxel in Lung Cancer Study

And gefitinib results in fewer adverse events in non-small-cell lung cancer patients

FRIDAY, Nov. 21 (HealthDay News) -- In the treatment of advanced non-small-cell lung cancer, gefitinib is not inferior to docetaxel, according to study findings published in the Nov. 22 issue of The Lancet.

In a multicenter, randomized, open-label phase III trial, Edward S. Kim, M.D., from the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, and colleagues compared gefitinib -- an epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) tyrosine kinase inhibitor -- with chemotherapy in 1,466 pretreated advanced non-small-cell lung cancer patients. Patients were randomized to receive either gefitinib (250 mg per day orally) or docetaxel (75 mg/m2 in a one-hour infusion every three weeks). Primary endpoints were overall survival and tolerability.

Gefitinib was on par with docetaxel in terms of overall survival (593 versus 576 events), with a median survival of 7.6 versus 8.0 months and a one-year survival of 32 percent and 34 percent, respectively. However, gefitinib had fewer adverse events: overall (72 percent versus 82 percent); serious adverse events (4 percent versus 18 percent); and adverse events leading to discontinuation of therapy (4 percent versus 11 percent).

"The clinical management of advanced non-small-cell lung cancer remains challenging, but an oral agent that has similar efficacy, has a more favorable tolerability profile, and results in better quality of life than intravenous chemotherapy is an important shift in the treatment paradigm for this disease and presents an alternative option for patients," the authors write.

Several of the study authors have disclosed financial relationships with pharmaceutical companies.

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