Erlotinib and pemetrexed have been approved for the second-line treatment of non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). These two agents have different mechanisms of action. Combined treatment with erlotinib and pemetrexed could potentially augment the antitumor activity of either agent alone. In the present study, we investigated the safety profile of combined administration of the two agents in pretreated NSCLC patients.
A phase I dose-finding study (Trial registration: UMIN000002900) was performed in patients with stage III/IV nonsquamous NSCLC whose disease had progressed on or after receiving first-line chemotherapy. Patients received 500mg/m2 of pemetrexed intravenously every 21days and erlotinib (100mg at Level 1 and 150mg at Level 2) orally on days 2–16.
Twelve patients, nine males and three females, were recruited. Patient characteristics included a median age of 66years (range, 48–78years), stage IV disease (nine cases), adenocarcinoma (seven cases) and activating mutation-positives in the epidermal growth factor receptor gene (two cases). Treatment was well-tolerated, and the recommended dose of erlotinib was fixed at 150mg. Dose-limiting toxicities were experienced in three patients and included: grade 3 elevation of serum alanine aminotransferase, repetitive grade 4 neutropenia that required reduction of the second dose of pemetrexed and grade 3 diarrhea. No patient experienced drug-induced interstitial lung disease. Three patients achieved a partial response and stable disease was maintained in five patients.
Combination chemotherapy of intermittent erlotinib with pemetrexed was well-tolerated, with promising efficacy against pretreated advanced nonsquamous NSCLC.
Keywords: Combination, Erlotinib, Pemetrexed, NSCLC, Phase I