A randomized trial of combination anastrozole plus gefitinib and of combination fulvestrant plus gefitinib in the treatment of postmenopausal women with hormone receptor positive metastatic breast cancer
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EGFR signalling pathways appear involved in endocrine therapy resistance in breast cancer. This trial estimates the antitumor efficacy and toxicity of the EGFR tyrosine kinase inhibitor gefitinib in combination with anastrozole or fulvestrant in postmenopausal hormone receptor positive breast cancer. Subjects with estrogen receptor and/or PgR positive, metastatic breast cancer were randomized into this phase II study of gefitinib (initial dose was 500 mg orally daily, due to high rate of diarrhea, starting dose was reduced to 250 mg orally daily) with either anastrozole 1 mg daily or fulvestrant 250 mg every 4 weeks. The primary endpoint was clinical benefit (complete responses plus partial responses plus stable disease for 6 months or longer). 141 eligible subjects were enrolled, 72 in the anastrozole plus gefitinib arm, and 69 in the fulvestrant plus gefitinib arm. Anastrozole plus gefitinib had a clinical benefit rate of 44% [95% confidence interval (CI) 33–57%] and fulvestrant plus gefitinib 41% (95% CI 29–53%). Median progression-free survival was 5.3 months (95% CI 3.1–10.4) versus 5.2 months (95% CI 2.9–8.2) for anastrozole plus gefitinib versus fulvestrant plus gefitinib, respectively. Median survival was 30.3 months (95% CI 21.2–38.9+) versus 23.9 months (95% CI 15.4–33.5) for anastrozole plus gefitinib versus fulvestrant plus gefitinib, respectively. In general, the toxicity is greater than expected for single agent endocrine therapy alone. Anastrozole plus gefitinib and fulvestrant plus gefitinib have similar clinical benefit rates in the treatment of estrogen and/or PgR positive metastatic breast cancer, and the rates of response are not clearly superior to gefitinib or endocrine therapy alone. Further studies of EGFR inhibition plus endocrine therapy do not appear warranted, but if performed should include attempts to identify biomarkers predictive of antitumor activity.
KeywordsMetastatic breast cancer Gefitinib Anastrozole Fulvestrant Randomized phase II
This study was conducted by the Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group (Robert L. Comis, MD, Chair) and supported in part by Public Health Service Grants CA23318, CA66636, CA21115, CA49883 and from the National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health and the Department of Health and Human Services. Its contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the National Cancer Institute.
Conflict of interest
Dr. Carlson is the recipient of a grant to his institution for funding of a clinical research study. No other author has a known conflict of interest.
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