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BMC Cancer. 2012; 12: 296.
Published online 2012 July 18. doi:  10.1186/1471-2407-12-296
PMCID: PMC3437193

Combination chemotherapy with intermittent erlotinib and pemetrexed for pretreated patients with advanced non-small cell lung cancer: a phase I dose-finding study

Abstract

Background

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.

Methods

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 500 mg/m2 of pemetrexed intravenously every 21 days and erlotinib (100 mg at Level 1 and 150 mg at Level 2) orally on days 2–16.

Results

Twelve patients, nine males and three females, were recruited. Patient characteristics included a median age of 66 years (range, 48–78 years), 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 150 mg. 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.

Conclusions

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

Articles from BMC Cancer are provided here courtesy of BioMed Central