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1.  Treatment rationale and study design for a phase III, double-blind, placebo-controlled study of maintenance pemetrexed plus best supportive care versus best supportive care immediately following induction treatment with pemetrexed plus cisplatin for advanced nonsquamous non-small cell lung cancer 
BMC Cancer  2010;10:85.
To improve the efficacy of first-line therapy for advanced non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), additional maintenance chemotherapy may be given after initial induction chemotherapy in patients who did not progress during the initial treatment, rather than waiting for disease progression to administer second-line treatment. Maintenance therapy may consist of an agent that either was or was not present in the induction regimen. The antifolate pemetrexed is efficacious in combination with cisplatin for first-line treatment of advanced NSCLC and has shown efficacy as a maintenance agent in studies in which it was not included in the induction regimen. We designed a phase III study to determine if pemetrexed maintenance therapy improves progression-free survival (PFS) and overall survival (OS) after cisplatin/pemetrexed induction therapy in patients with advanced nonsquamous NSCLC. Furthermore, since evidence suggests expression levels of thymidylate synthase, the primary target of pemetrexed, may be associated with responsiveness to pemetrexed, translational research will address whether thymidylate synthase expression correlates with efficacy outcomes of pemetrexed.
Approximately 900 patients will receive four cycles of induction chemotherapy consisting of pemetrexed (500 mg/m2) and cisplatin (75 mg/m2) on day 1 of a 21-day cycle. Patients with an Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group performance status of 0 or 1 who have not progressed during induction therapy will randomly receive (in a 2:1 ratio) one of two double-blind maintenance regimens: pemetrexed (500 mg/m2 on day 1 of a 21-day cycle) plus best supportive care (BSC) or placebo plus BSC. The primary objective is to compare PFS between treatment arms. Secondary objectives include a fully powered analysis of OS, objective tumor response rate, patient-reported outcomes, resource utilization, and toxicity. Tumor specimens for translational research will be obtained from consenting patients before induction treatment, with a second biopsy performed in eligible patients following the induction phase.
Although using a drug as maintenance therapy that was not used in the induction regimen exposes patients to an agent with a different mechanism of action, evidence suggests that continued use of an agent present in the induction regimen as maintenance therapy enables the identification of patients most likely to benefit from maintenance treatment.
Trial Registration
Trial Registry:
Registration number: NCT00789373
Trial abbreviation: H3E-EW-S124
PMCID: PMC2847958  PMID: 20211022
2.  Interstitial Pneumonitis after Treatment with Pemetrexed for Non-small Cell Lung Cancer 
Pemetrexed is approved as a first-line treatment for advanced non-squamous non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) with cisplatin and as a single agent for second-line treatment or for patients who show no disease progression after four cycles of platinum-based doublet induction chemotherapy as maintenance therapy. Pemetrexed has a modest toxicity profile and has not traditionally been regarded as a cause of interstitial pneumonitis. Here, we report on a rare case of pemetrexed-induced pneumonitis in a patient with NSCLC.
PMCID: PMC3629367  PMID: 23613674
Interstitial lung diseases; Pemetrexed; Non-small-cell lung carcinoma; Adenocarcinoma; Drug therapy
3.  Pemetrexed as first-line therapy for non-squamous non-small cell lung cancer 
Pemetrexed is a new cytotoxic agent that is a standard of care for the second-line treatment of non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) and in combination with cisplatin in treatment of malignat pleural mesothelioma. It has been studied in numerous phase II and III trials in combination with different drugs or as single agent. Recently, pemetrexed has been approved in combination with cisplatin for the first-line treatment of patients with locally advanced or metastatic NSCLC other than squamous cell histology. The toxicity is acceptable and similar to that of other NSCLC regimens. The postinduction maintenance therapy with pemetrexed is being evaluated in a phase III, double-blind, placebo-controlled study.
PMCID: PMC2762436  PMID: 19851525
pemetrexed; non-small cell lung cancer; non-squamous carcinoma; first-line setting
4.  Approval Summary: Pemetrexed Maintenance Therapy of Advanced/Metastatic Nonsquamous, Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer (NSCLC) 
The Oncologist  2010;15(12):1352-1358.
The study that led to U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval of pemetrexed injection for maintenance treatment of patients with locally advanced or metastatic nonsquamous non-small cell lung cancer whose disease has not progressed after four cycles of platinum-based doublet induction chemotherapy is reviewed.
Learning Objectives
After completing this course, the reader will be able to: Consider tumor histology when making treatment decisions for patients with NSCLC.Identify patients with NSCLC who may be appropriate candidates for maintenance therapy with pemetrexed.
This article is available for continuing medical education credit at
On July 2, 2009, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved pemetrexed injection (Alimta® Injection; Eli Lilly and Company, Indianapolis, IN) for maintenance treatment of patients with locally advanced or metastatic nonsquamous non-small cell lung cancer whose disease has not progressed after four cycles of platinum-based doublet induction chemotherapy.
A double-blind study of pemetrexed plus best supportive care versus placebo plus best supportive care was conducted. Pemetrexed, 500 mg/m2 i.v., was administered every 21 days until disease progression. Folic acid, vitamin B12, and a corticosteroid were given to all study patients.
There were 663 randomized patients (pemetrexed, 441; placebo, 222). Treatments were well balanced with respect to baseline disease characteristics and stratification factors.
The median overall survival (OS) time for intent-to-treat (ITT) patients was 13.4 months for patients receiving pemetrexed and 10.6 months for those receiving placebo (hazard ratio [HR] 0.79; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.65–0.95; p = .012). Median OS times were 15.5 months versus 10.3 months for patients with nonsquamous histologies receiving pemetrexed and placebo, respectively (HR, 0.70; 95% CI, 0.56–0.88). The median OS time in patients with squamous histology receiving pemetrexed was 9.9 months, versus 10.8 months for those receiving placebo (HR, 1.07; 95% CI, 0.77–1.50). A significantly longer progression-free survival interval for both the ITT and nonsquamous patient populations receiving pemetrexed maintenance therapy was also observed.
The most common (>5%) adverse reactions in patients receiving pemetrexed were hematologic toxicity, an increase in hepatic enzymes, fatigue, gastrointestinal toxicity, sensory neuropathy, and skin rash.
PMCID: PMC3227931  PMID: 21148615
Pemetrexed; Non-small cell lung cancer; Maintenance treatment
5.  Home administration of maintenance pemetrexed for patients with advanced non-squamous non-small cell lung cancer: rationale, practicalities and phase II feasibility study design 
Home-based care in oncology is mainly reserved for patients at the end of life. Regulations regarding home delivery of cytotoxics differ across Europe, with a notable lack of practice guidelines in most countries. This has led to a lack of data addressing the feasibility of home-based administration of cytotoxic chemotherapy. In advanced non-squamous non-small cell lung cancer, pemetrexed is approved as maintenance therapy after first-line chemotherapy. In this setting, patients have the potential to be treated long-term with maintenance therapy, which, in the absence of unacceptable toxicity, is continued until disease progression. The favourable safety profile of pemetrexed and the ease of its administration by 10-minute intravenous infusion every 3 weeks make this drug a suitable candidate for administration in a home setting.
Literature and regulations relevant to the home-based delivery of cytotoxic therapy were reviewed, and a phase II feasibility study of home administration of pemetrexed maintenance therapy was designed. At least 50 patients with advanced non-squamous non-small cell lung cancer, Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group performance status 0–1 and no progressive disease after four cycles of platinum-based first-line therapy are required to allow investigation of the feasibility of home-based administration of pemetrexed maintenance therapy (500 mg/m2 every 3 weeks until progressive disease or unacceptable toxicity). Feasibility is being assessed as adherence to the home-based administration process (primary endpoint), patient safety, impact on patients’ quality of life, patient and physician satisfaction with home care, and healthcare resource use and costs. Enrolment of patients from the UK and Sweden, where home-based care is relatively well developed, commenced in December 2011.
This feasibility study addresses an important aspect of maintenance therapy, that is, patient comfort during protracted home-based chemotherapy. The study design requires unusual methodology and specific logistics to address outcomes relevant to the home-delivery approach. This article presents a study design that offers a novel and reproducible model for home-based chemotherapy, and provides an up-to-date overview of the literature regarding this type of treatment.
Trial registration NCT01473563
PMCID: PMC3852573  PMID: 24090033
Pemetrexed; Lung; Maintenance treatment; Home administration
6.  Efficacy assessment of pemetrexed treatment of an NSCLC case with brain metastasis 
Oncology Letters  2012;4(5):1119-1121.
Non-small cell lung cancers (NSCLCs) are among the most common malignancies. Although pemetrexed is often used clinically to cure cancers, its efficacy in NSCLC patients with progressive brain metastases remains unclear. Here, we report a successful NSCLC (adenocarcinoma) case treated with pemetrexed. The detected tumors were treated with 900 mg of pemetrexed disodium (500 mg/m2) was administered to the patient on day 1, and 40 mg of cisplatin (25mg/m2) was administered on days 1–3, at the interval of 3 weeks. After two cycles of chemotherapy, the brain metastases were reduced. The lesion in the lung was reduced as determined by chest CT-scan. Our results suggest that pemetrexed is an effective therapy for patients with NSCLC and progressive brain metastases.
PMCID: PMC3499519  PMID: 23162663
pemetrexed; non-small cell lung cancer; efficacy; brain metastasis
7.  Maintenance Therapy for NSCLC: Consensus and Controversy 
Nowadays, advanced non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) is still an incurable disease. However, recent researches on maintenance therapy have led to considerable progress. Recently, pemetrexed and erlotinib have been approved for maintenance chemotherapy by both the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and European Medicines Agency. However, there are not adequate data to support the maintenance therapy as the standard treatment for advanced NSCLC and there has been no conclusive predictor of who will get benefit from maintenance chemotherapy and what type of maintenance, continuation or switch, is preferred. This article reviews the main studies on maintenance therapy of advanced NSCLC and discusses the results available to date.
PMCID: PMC3551304  PMID: 23359213
Non-small cell lung cancer; Maintenance therapy; Pemetrexed; Erlotinib
8.  Combination chemotherapy with intermittent erlotinib and pemetrexed for pretreated patients with advanced non-small cell lung cancer: a phase I dose-finding study 
BMC Cancer  2012;12:296.
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 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.
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.
Combination chemotherapy of intermittent erlotinib with pemetrexed was well-tolerated, with promising efficacy against pretreated advanced nonsquamous NSCLC.
PMCID: PMC3437193  PMID: 22809298
Combination; Erlotinib; Pemetrexed; NSCLC; Phase I
9.  Revisiting cutaneous adverse reactions to pemetrexed 
Oncology Letters  2011;2(5):769-772.
Pemetrexed (Alimta®) is a multitargeted antifolate drug approved as a single agent or in combination with cisplatin for the treatment of a small number of malignancies including advanced and metastatic non-squamous non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), and malignant pleural mesothelioma. This review reports the recent peer-reviewed publications and original findings regarding cutaneous adverse reactions (CARs) to pemetrexed. Pemetrexed-related CARs are frequently reported under the unspecific term ‘skin rash’. However, more specific diseases were tentatively identified as alopecias, urticarial vasculitis, acute generalized exanthematous pustulosis, toxic epidermal necrolysis, radiation recall dermatitis and pityriasis lichenoides. Most of the skin reactions occur shortly after pemetrexed administration. As with methotrexate-related CARs, the cell cycle arrest in the S phase may be regarded as a direct and major cause of the cytotoxic pathobiology. An adverse immune reaction is unlikely. In conclusion, pemetrexed is responsible for CARs exhibiting a variety of clinical presentations. Their origin is likely attributed to direct cytotoxicity following the cell cycle arrest in the S phase and cell necrosis.
PMCID: PMC3408105  PMID: 22866124
10.  Phase II Trial of Pemetrexed Plus Bevacizumab for Second-Line Therapy of Patients With Advanced Non–Small-Cell Lung Cancer: NCCTG and SWOG Study N0426 
Journal of Clinical Oncology  2009;28(4):614-619.
To evaluate the efficacy and toxicity of pemetrexed combined with bevacizumab as second-line therapy for patients with advanced non–small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC) and to correlate allelic variants in pemetrexed-metabolizing genes with clinical outcome.
Patients and Methods
Patients with previously treated NSCLC received pemetrexed (500 mg/m2 intravenous) combined with bevacizumab (15 mg/kg intravenous) every 3 weeks. The primary end point, evaluated using a one-stage Fleming design for detecting a true success rate of at least 70%, was the proportion of patients who were progression free and on treatment at 3 months. Polymorphisms in genes responsible for pemetrexed transport (reduced folate carrier [SLC19A1]) and metabolism (folylpolyglutamate synthase [FPGS] and gamma-glutamyl hydrolase [GGH]) evaluated in germline DNA (blood) were correlated with treatment outcome.
Forty-eight evaluable patients (14 females and 34 males) received a median of four cycles (range, one to 20 cycles). The most common grade 3 or 4 nonhematologic adverse events (AEs) were fatigue (13%), dyspnea (10%), and thrombosis (10%). Grade 3 or 4 hematologic AEs were neutropenia (19%) and lymphopenia (13%). Twenty-four (57%; 95% CI, 41% to 72%) of the first 42 patients met the success criteria. Median overall survival (OS) and progression-free survival (PFS) times were 8.6 and 4.0 months, respectively. The exon 6 (2522)C→T polymorphism in SLC19A1 correlated with 3-month progression-free status (P = .01) and with PFS (P = .05). The IVS1(1307)C→T polymorphism in GGH correlated with OS (P = .04).
The study did not meet its primary end point. However, the median PFS time of 4 months is promising. Pharmacogenetic studies in larger cohorts are needed to definitively identify polymorphisms that predict for survival and toxicity of pemetrexed.
PMCID: PMC2815996  PMID: 19841321
11.  Pemetrexed versus vinorelbine treatment of advanced non-squamous non-small cell lung cancer in elderly patients 
Molecular and Clinical Oncology  2013;1(3):553-557.
Pemetrexed, a multitargeted antifolate agent, has been shown to have clear activity in non-squamous non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). The aim of this retrospective studywas to evaluated the efficacy and toxicity of pemetrexed vs. vinorelbine in NSCLC elderly patients. Chemotherapy-naive patients aged ≥70 years with stage IIIB/IV non-squamous NSCLC and performance status ≤2 were eligible for inclusion in this study. Patients were selected to receive pemetrexed 500 mg/m2 (day 1) or vinorelbine 25 mg/m2 (days 1 and 8) every 21 days. In total, 62 patients were enrolled in the present study. Thirty-six patients were treated with pemetrexed, and 26 with vinorelbine. The median number of cycles received was six in the pemetrexed group vs. four in the vinorelbine group. Pemetrexed demonstrated a significantly higher disease control rate (DCR) (80.5 vs. 65.3%; P=0.011), and an improvement in progression-free survival (6.5 vs. 4.0 months; P=0.018) compared to vinorelbine. Neutropenia occurred in more patients in the vinorelbine group compared to the pemetrexed group, grade 3–4 neutropenia was observed in 53.8 and 11.1% of patients in the two groups, respectively (P<0.001). Pemetrexed-treated patients experienced lower frequencies of anemia, thrombocytopenia and non-hematologic toxicities compared to vinorelbine-treated patients. The toxicity profiles for the two treatment groups were mild and tolerable. In conclusion, pemetrexed improved DCR, progression-free survival, and presented a lower incidence of treatment-related adverse events compared to vinorelbine, although overall survival was not significantly improved. As a result, pemetrexed monotherapy might be considered as a good option in the treatment of elderly patients with advanced non-squamous NSCLC.
PMCID: PMC3915481  PMID: 24649210
pemetrexed; vinorelbine; first-line therapy; elderly; lung cancer
12.  Identifying the target NSCLC patient for maintenance therapy: an analysis from a placebo-controlled, phase III trial of maintenance pemetrexed (H3E-MC-JMEN)† 
Annals of Oncology  2013;24(6):1534-1542.
This was a post hoc analysis of patients with non-squamous histology from a phase III maintenance pemetrexed study in advanced non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC).
Patients and methods
The six symptom items' [average symptom burden index (ASBI)] mean at baseline was calculated using the lung cancer symptom scale (LCSS). Low and high symptom burden (LSB, ASBI < 25; HSB, ASBI ≥ 25) and performance status (PS: 0, 1) subgroups were analyzed for treatment effect on progression-free survival (PFS) and overall survival (OS) using the Cox proportional hazard models adjusted for demographic/clinical factors.
Significantly longer PFS and OS for pemetrexed versus placebo occurred in LSB patients [PFS: median 5.1 versus 2.4 months, hazard ratio (HR) 0.49, P < 0.0001; OS: median 17.5 versus 11.0 months, HR 0.63, P = 0.0012] and PS 0 patients (PFS: median 5.5 versus 1.7 months, HR 0.36, P < 0.0001; OS: median 17.7 versus 10.3 months, HR 0.54, P = 0.0019). Significantly longer PFS, but not OS, occurred in HSB patients (median 3.7 versus 2.8 months, HR 0.50, P = 0.0033) and PS 1 patients (median 4.4 versus 2.8 months, HR 0.60, P = 0.0002).
ASBI and PS are associated with survival for non-squamous NSCLC patients, suggesting that maintenance pemetrexed is useful for LSB or PS 0 patients following induction.
PMCID: PMC3660084  PMID: 23559150
lung cancer symptom scale; maintenance therapy; non-squamous NSCLC; patient-reported symptoms; pemetrexed; survival
13.  Pemetrexed-based chemotherapy in patients with advanced, ALK-positive non-small cell lung cancer 
Annals of Oncology  2012;24(1):59-66.
Anaplastic lymphoma kinase (ALK)-positive non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC) is highly responsive to crizotinib. To determine whether ALK-positive NSCLC is also sensitive to pemetrexed, we retrospectively evaluated progression-free survival (PFS) of ALK-positive versus ALK-negative patients who had been treated with pemetrexed-based chemotherapy for advanced NSCLC.
Patients and methods
We identified 121 patients with advanced, ALK-positive NSCLC in the USA, Australia, and Italy. For comparison, we evaluated 266 patients with advanced, ALK-negative, epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR)-wild-type NSCLC, including 79 with KRAS mutations and 187 with wild-type KRAS (WT/WT/WT). We determined PFS on different pemetrexed regimens.
Among 70 ALK-positive patients treated with a platinum/pemetrexed regimen, the median PFS (mPFS) was 7.3 months (95% confidence interval (CI) 5.5–9.5). The mPFS of 51 ALK-positive patients treated with single-agent pemetrexed or nonplatinum/pemetrexed combinations was 5.5 months (2.8–9.0). For ALK-negative patients, PFS on all pemetrexed-based regimens was similar to that of ALK-positive patients, except in the specific setting of first-line platinum/pemetrexed where the mPFS was only 4.2 and 5.4 months in KRAS and WT/WT/WT patients, respectively. However, among patients with a never/light-smoking history (0–10 pack-year smoking history) treated with first-line platinum/pemetrexed, there was no difference in PFS between ALK-positive and ALK-negative patients.
PFS on pemetrexed or nonplatinum/pemetrexed combinations was similar in ALK-positive and ALK-negative patients. PFS on first-line platinum/pemetrexed may be prolonged in never/light-smoking patients regardless of ALK status.
PMCID: PMC3525134  PMID: 22887466
ALK; lung cancer; pemetrexed
14.  Cross-market cost-effectiveness analysis of erlotinib as first-line maintenance treatment for patients with stable non-small cell lung cancer 
Platinum-doublet, first-line treatment of locally advanced or metastatic non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) is limited to 4–6 cycles. An alternative strategy used to prolong the duration of first-line treatment and extend survival in metastatic NSCLC is first-line maintenance therapy. Erlotinib was approved for first-line maintenance in a stable disease population following results from a randomized, controlled Phase III trial comparing erlotinib with best supportive care. We aimed to estimate the incremental cost-effectiveness of erlotinib 150 mg/day versus best supportive care when used as first-line maintenance therapy for patients with locally advanced or metastatic NSCLC and stable disease.
An economic decision model was developed using patient-level data for progression-free survival and overall survival from the SATURN (SequentiAl Tarceva in UnResectable NSCLC) study. An area under the curve model was developed; all patients entered the model in the progression-free survival health state and, after each month, moved to progression or death. A time horizon of 5 years was used. The model was conducted from the perspective of national health care payers in France, Germany, and Italy. Probabilistic sensitivity analyses were performed.
Treatment with erlotinib in first-line maintenance resulted in a mean life expectancy of 1.39 years in all countries, compared with a mean 1.11 years with best supportive care, which represents 0.28 life-years (3.4 life-months) gained with erlotinib versus best supportive care. In the base-case analysis, the cost per life-year gained was €39,783, €46,931, and €27,885 in France, Germany, and Italy, respectively.
Erlotinib is a cost-effective treatment option when used as first-line maintenance therapy for locally advanced or metastatic NSCLC.
PMCID: PMC3278202  PMID: 22347803
non-small cell lung cancer; cost-effectiveness; first-line maintenance; erlotinib; lung cancer
15.  Cost-effectiveness analysis of pemetrexed versus docetaxel in the second-line treatment of non-small cell lung cancer in Spain: results for the non-squamous histology population 
BMC Cancer  2010;10:26.
The objective of this study was to conduct a cost-effectiveness evaluation of pemetrexed compared to docetaxel in the treatment of advanced or metastatic non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) for patients with predominantly non-squamous histology in the Spanish healthcare setting.
A Markov model was designed consisting of stable, responsive, progressive disease and death states. Patients could also experience adverse events as long as they received chemotherapy. Clinical inputs were based on an analysis of a phase III clinical trial that identified a statistically significant improvement in overall survival for non-squamous patients treated with pemetrexed compared with docetaxel. Costs were collected from the Spanish healthcare perspective.
Outcomes of the model included total costs, total quality-adjusted life years (QALYs), total life years gained (LYG) and total progression-free survival (PFS). Mean survival was 1.03 years for the pemetrexed arm and 0.89 years in the docetaxel arm; QALYs were 0.52 compared to 0.42. Per-patient lifetime costs were € 34677 and € 32343, respectively. Incremental cost-effectiveness ratios were € 23967 per QALY gained and € 17225 per LYG.
Pemetrexed as a second-line treatment option for patients with a predominantly non-squamous histology in NSCLC is a cost-effective alternative to docetaxel according to the € 30000/QALY threshold commonly accepted in Spain.
PMCID: PMC2841662  PMID: 20113499
16.  The Effectiveness of Maintenance Pharmacotherapies for Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer 
Although current recommendations for the treatment of advanced non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) include a maximum of six cycles of platinum-based combination therapy as a first-line approach, most patients experience progression within 3–4 months. Therefore, a new treatment strategy, maintenance therapy, has been proposed, and several large randomized prospective controlled trials have shown benefits with maintenance therapy. Maintenance therapy can be classified as either continuation maintenance, which is defined as a prolongation of a part of the first-line chemotherapy or molecularly targeted agent until progression, or switch-maintenance, which is defined as the administration of a different cytotoxic chemotherapy or molecularly targeted agent immediately after induction therapy. In this article, recent results from large randomized phase III trials regarding maintenance therapy are reviewed in order to evaluate the role of maintenance therapy in NSCLC.
PMCID: PMC3382338  PMID: 22745566
non-small cell lung cancer; maintenance therapy
17.  Role of pemetrexed in advanced non-small-cell lung cancer: meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials, with histology subgroup analysis 
Current Oncology  2012;19(1):e9-e15.
Platinum-based regimens represent the standard first-line treatment for non-small-cell lung cancer (nsclc). However, newer data have established a role for pemetrexed in the treatment of this disease. Such data suggest that histology represents a determining factor in the selection of treatment.
We undertook a systematic review of the literature for randomized controlled trials that compared the efficacy of pemetrexed with that of other treatments in advanced nsclc. Data and study quality were assessed according to published guidelines.
We identified five trials that compared pemetrexed with other treatments or with placebo. Overall survival for patients treated with pemetrexed was superior to that with other treatments: hazard ratio (hr): 0.89; 95% confidence interval (ci): 0.80 to 0.99. The survival benefit was limited to patients with non-squamous histology: hr: 0.82; 95% ci: 0.73 to 0.91. Pemetrexed was inferior to other chemotherapy options in patients with squamous histology: hr: 1.19; 95% ci: 0.99 to 1.43.
Compared with other chemotherapy agents, pemetrexed is more effective for the treatment of nsclc in patients with non-squamous histology.
PMCID: PMC3267597  PMID: 22328848
nsclc; meta-analysis; pemetrexed
18.  Treatment paradigms for patients with metastatic non-small-cell lung cancer: first-, second-, and third-line 
Current Oncology  2012;19(Suppl 1):S52-S58.
Metastatic non-small-cell lung cancer (nsclc) is the leading cause of cancer mortality in Canada. Although treatment outcomes in advanced disease remain modest, with paradigm shifts in the approach to treatment, they are steadily improving. Customizing treatment based on histology and molecular typing has become the standard of care. EGFR genotyping and pathology subtyping should be considered routine in new diagnoses of metastatic nsclc. Treatment options for those with somatic EGFR activating mutations include gefitinib until progression, followed by standard chemotherapy. For patients with wild-type EGFR, or in patients whose EGFR genotype is unknown, platinum-based chemotherapy remains the first-line standard, with single-agent chemotherapy as an option for older patients and those who are unfit for platinum-doublet therapy. Patients with nonsquamous histology may receive treatment regimens incorporating pemetrexed or bevacizumab. In patients with squamous cell carcinoma, the latter agents should be avoided because of concerns about enhanced toxicity or decreased efficacy. Second-line chemotherapy is offered to a selected subgroup of patients upon progression and may include pemetrexed in non-squamous histology and docetaxel or erlotinib (or both) in all histologies. Currently, only erlotinib is offered as a third-line option in unselected nsclc patients after failure of first- and second-line chemotherapy. Maintenance therapy is emerging as a new option for patients, as are targeted therapies for particular molecular subtypes of nsclc, such as crizotinib in tumours harbouring the EML4–ALK gene rearrangement.
PMCID: PMC3377755  PMID: 22787411
Metastatic non-small-cell lung cancer; nsclc; advanced; systemic therapy; chemotherapy
19.  Future Scenarios for the Treatment of Advanced Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer: Focus on Taxane-Containing Regimens 
The Oncologist  2010;15(10):1102-1112.
This review evaluates the available evidence and explores the role and importance of various modern chemotherapy regimens in the treatment of advanced non-small cell lung cancer, with the aim of optimizing treatment selection and combination with biological agents.
Despite recent progress in the development of new molecularly targeted agents, the chemotherapy regimens considered standard at the end of the last century—that is, two-drug combinations consisting of either cisplatin or carboplatin plus a third-generation agent (docetaxel, paclitaxel, gemcitabine, or vinorelbine)—remain the primary treatment option for advanced non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) patients. Most recently, the existing standard of care has been amended to reflect the significant survival advantage of cisplatin–pemetrexed over cisplatin–gemcitabine as first-line treatment of nonsquamous NSCLC. The addition of a biological drug (bevacizumab, cetuximab) or the use of a single-agent epidermal growth factor receptor inhibitor may further improve outcomes in selected patients.
It has become increasingly clear, primarily through recent meta-analyses, that although the therapeutic equivalence of any combination of a platinum agent plus either gemcitabine, vinorelbine, docetaxel, or paclitaxel has been long accepted, each regimen has different side effects and therapeutic outcomes that allow clinicians to select the most appropriate treatment for chemotherapy-naïve patients with stage IIIB/IV NSCLC. In this review, we evaluate the available evidence and explore the role and importance of various modern chemotherapy regimens, with the aim of optimizing treatment selection and combination with biological agents. Emphasis is placed on the role of taxanes (docetaxel versus paclitaxel) in this changing landscape.
PMCID: PMC3227896  PMID: 20930102
Non-small cell lung carcinoma; Chemotherapy; Docetaxel; Treatment algorithm
20.  Estimating quality adjusted progression free survival of first-line treatments for EGFR mutation positive non small cell lung cancer patients in The Netherlands 
Gefitinib, a tyrosine kinase inhibitor, is an effective treatment in advanced non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) patients with an activating mutation in the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR). Randomised clinical trials showed a benefit in progression free survival for gefitinib versus doublet chemotherapy regimens in patients with an activated EGFR mutation (EGFR M+). From a patient perspective, progression free survival is important, but so is health-related quality of life. Therefore, this analysis evaluates the Quality Adjusted progression free survival of gefitinib versus three relevant doublet chemotherapies (gemcitabine/cisplatin (Gem/Cis); pemetrexed/cisplatin (Pem/Cis); paclitaxel/carboplatin (Pac/Carb)) in a Dutch health care setting in patients with EGFR M+ stage IIIB/IV NSCLC. This study uses progression free survival rather than overall survival for its time frame in order to better compare the treatments and to account for the influence that subsequent treatment lines would have on overall survival analysis.
Mean progression free survival for Pac/Carb was obtained by extrapolating the median progression free survival as reported in the Iressa-Pan-Asia Study (IPASS). Data from a network meta-analysis was used to estimate the mean progression free survival for therapies of interest relative to Pac/Carb. Adjustment for health-related quality of life was done by incorporating utilities for the Dutch population, obtained by converting FACT-L data (from IPASS) to utility values and multiplying these with the mean progression free survival for each treatment arm to determine the Quality Adjusted progression free survival. Probabilistic sensitivity analysis was carried out to determine 95% credibility intervals.
The Quality Adjusted progression free survival (PFS) (mean, (95% credibility interval)) was 5.2 months (4.5; 5.8) for Gem/Cis, 5.3 months (4.6; 6.1) for Pem/Cis; 4.9 months (4.4; 5.5) for Pac/Carb and 8.3 (7.0; 9.9) for gefitinib.
In the Dutch health care setting, the previously established progression free survival benefit of first-line gefitinib in advanced NSCLC EGFR M+ patients in comparison to standard doublet chemotherapy is further supported by the Quality Adjusted PFS, which takes into account the additional health-related quality of life benefits of gefitinib over doublet chemotherapy.
PMCID: PMC3492197  PMID: 22963131
Advanced non-small cell lung cancer; Tyrosine kinase inhibitors; EGFR mutation; Gefitinib; Quality of life; Progression free survival
21.  Trial on Refinement of Early stage non-small cell lung cancer. Adjuvant chemotherapy with pemetrexed and cisplatin versus vinorelbine and cisplatin: The TREAT protocol 
BMC Cancer  2007;7:77.
Adjuvant chemotherapy has been proven to be beneficial for patients with early stage non-small cell lung cancer. However, toxicity and insufficient dose delivery have been critical issues with the chemotherapy used. Doublet regimens with pemetrexed, a multi-target folate inhibitor, and platin show clear activity in non-small cell lung cancer and are well tolerated with low toxicity rates and excellent delivery.
In this prospective, multi-center, open label randomized phase II study, patients with pathologically confirmed non-small cell lung cancer, stage IB, IIA, IIB, T3N1 will be randomized after complete tumor resection either to 4 cycles of the standard adjuvant vinorelbine and cisplatin regimen from the published phase III data, or to 4 cycles of pemetrexed 500 mg/m2 d1 and cisplatin 75 mg/m2 d1, q 3 weeks. Primary objective is to compare the clinical feasibility of these cisplatin doublets defined as non-occurrence of grade 4 neutropenia and/or thrombocytopenia > 7 days or bleeding, grade 3/4 febrile neutropenia and/or infection, grade 3/4 non-hematological toxicity, non-acceptance leading to premature withdrawal and no cancer or therapy related death. Secondary parameters are efficacy (time to relapse, overall survival) and drug delivery. Parameters of safety are hematologic and non-hematologic toxicity of both arms.
The TREAT trial was designed to evaluate the clinical feasibility, i.e. rate of patients without dose limiting toxicities or premature treatment withdrawal or death of the combination of cisplatin and pemetrexed as well as the published phase III regimen of cisplatin and vinorelbine. Hypothesis of the study is that reduced toxicities might improve the feasibility of drug delivery, compliance and the convenience of treatment for the patient and perhaps survival.
Trial Registration NCT00349089
PMCID: PMC1878496  PMID: 17488518
22.  Polymorphisms in thymidylate synthase and reduced folate carrier (SLC19A1) genes predict survival outcome in advanced non-small cell lung cancer patients treated with pemetrexed-based chemotherapy 
Oncology Letters  2013;5(4):1165-1170.
The aim of this study was to evaluate the association between thymidylate synthase (TS), methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase (MTHFR) and reduced folate carrier (SLC19A1) gene polymorphisms and the treatment efficacy of pemetrexed-based chemotherapy in advanced non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). Advanced NSCLC patients received pemetrexed and cisplatin every three weeks. Polymorphisms in the TS, MTHFR and SLC19A1 genes were detected in peripheral blood samples using DNA sequencing and Taqman PCR. An analysis of gene polymorphisms was performed with respect to the progression-free survival (PFS), response rate (RR) and overall survival (OS) of patients treated with pemetrexed. The median PFS times for patients with the TS 2R/2R, 2R/3C or 3C/3C genotypes were significantly longer than those of patients with the 2R/3G, 3C/3G or 3G/3G genotypes (P=0.036). Patients with the SLC19A1 CC genotype had a significantly longer median OS compared with individuals with the homozygous and heterozygous genotypes (12.2 vs. 8.9 and 7.3 months, respectively; P=0.022). The PFS and OS did not differ for the three genotypes of MTHFR assessed. The RR was higher in patients with the TS 2R/2R, 2R/3C or 3C/3C genotypes than in the other groups (P=0.044). The polymorphisms of the 5′-UTR of the TS gene and exon 6 (2522) C/T of the SLC19A1 gene predict the survival of advanced NSCLC patients treated with pemetrexed. However, a large scale clinical trial is required to validate these findings.
PMCID: PMC3629022  PMID: 23599757
pemetrexed; methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase; thymidylate synthase; SLC19A1; single nucleotide polymorphism; advanced non-small cell lung cancer
23.  The SATURN trial: the value of maintenance erlotinib in patients with non-small-cell lung cancer 
Future oncology (London, England)  2010;6(12):1827-1832.
The first-line treatment of advanced non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC) generally consists of a maximum of six cycles of platinum-based doublet chemotherapy followed by surveillance for disease progression. Recently, the strategy of starting second-line treatment immediately following the completion of chemotherapy, known as ‘maintenance’ chemotherapy, has been investigated. The use of maintenance pemetrexed improves both progression-free and overall survival, while the use of maintenance docetaxel did not significantly improve overall survival. The Sequential Tarceva in Unresectable NSCLC (SATURN) study investigated the use of maintenance erlotinib following the completion of first-line chemotherapy. It demonstrated a significant improvement in overall survival from 11.1 months in the placebo group to 12.3 months in patients receiving maintenance erlotinib, with the important caveat that only 21% of patients in the placebo group ever received erlotinib. A subset of patients whose tumors had EGF receptor mutations had a higher magnitude of benefit from maintenance treatment. Therefore, maintenance erlotinib should be considered in the treatment of patients with NSCLC.
PMCID: PMC3042878  PMID: 21142856
EGF receptor tyrosine kinase inhibitor; erlotinib; gefitinib; maintenance chemotherapy; non-small-cell lung cancer
24.  CBDCA + Pemetrexed + Bevacizumab and Its Maintenance Chemotherapy in a Case of Solitary Breast Metastasis from a Lung Adenocarcinoma Resistant to Gefitinib 
Case Reports in Oncology  2012;5(3):546-553.
Based on the AVAPERL trial (36th ESMO 2011), CBDCA + pemetrexed + bevacizumab and its maintenance chemotherapy with pemetrexed + bevacizumab is a new promising regimen for the treatment of advanced non-small-cell lung adenocarcinoma. Herein, we report the rare case of a patient with solitary breast metastasis from a lung adenocarcinoma, which was effectively treated using CBDCA + pemetrexed + bevacizumab and its maintenance chemotherapy. A 57-year-old female was admitted to the hospital due to pleural effusion and cardiac tamponade caused by a lung adenocarcinoma possessing a mutation of the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) gene (deletion of exon 19). The patient was treated by first-line chemotherapy (gefitinib 250 mg/body/day) which resulted in complete response. After 12 months, carcinoembryonic antigen was gradually increasing and she complained of a right breast mass. With a core-needle biopsy, the breast tumor was pathologically diagnosed as recurrence and solitary metastasis of a lung adenocarcinoma. Further study of the second mutation of EGFR revealed a T790M mutation. The patient was treated by second-line chemotherapy [CBDCA + pemetrexed + bevacizumab (AUC 6 + 500 mg/m2 + 15 mg/kg)] and its maintenance chemotherapy (pemetrexed + bevacizumab). The cases of patients with breast metastasis from other organs are very rare. Immunohistopathological analysis is very useful to diagnose whether the malignancy is primary or not. In the case of a breast tumor with present or previous malignancy, a metastatic breast tumor should be considered. Furthermore, the biopsy of the breast metastasis also revealed the second mutation of resistance to gefitinib, T790M. Of note, according to our case, CBDCA + pemetrexed + bevacizumab and its maintenance chemotherapy is feasible and well tolerated for breast metastasis from a lung adenocarcinoma which is resistant to gefitinib and possesses the T790M mutation in the EGFR gene.
PMCID: PMC3492973  PMID: 23139670
Solitary breast metastasis; Non-small-cell lung carcinoma; T790M; CBDCA + pemetrexed + bevacizumab; Maintenance therapy; Tyrosine kinase inhibitor resistance
25.  Randomized Phase II Study of Pemetrexed, Carboplatin, and Thoracic Radiation With or Without Cetuximab in Patients With Locally Advanced Unresectable Non–Small-Cell Lung Cancer: Cancer and Leukemia Group B Trial 30407 
Journal of Clinical Oncology  2011;29(23):3120-3125.
Cancer and Leukemia Group B conducted a randomized phase II trial to investigate two novel chemotherapy regimens in combination with concurrent thoracic radiation therapy (TRT).
Patients and Methods
Patients with unresectable stage III non–small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC) were randomly assigned to carboplatin (area under the curve, 5) and pemetrexed (500 mg/m2) every 21 days for four cycles and TRT (70 Gy; arm A) or the same treatment with cetuximab administered concurrent only with TRT (arm B). Patients in both arms received up to four cycles of pemetrexed as consolidation therapy. The primary end point was the 18-month overall survival (OS) rate; if the 18-month OS rate was ≥ 55%, the regimen(s) would be considered for further study.
Of the 101 eligible patients enrolled (48 in arm A and 53 in arm B), 60% were male; the median age was 66 years (range, 32 to 81 years); 44% and 35% had adenocarcinoma and squamous carcinoma, respectively; and more patients enrolled onto arm A compared with arm B had a performance status of 0 (58% v 34%, respectively; P = .04). The 18-month OS rate was 58% (95% CI, 46% to 74%) in arm A and 54% (95% CI, 42% to 70%) in arm B. No significant difference in OS between patients with squamous and nonsquamous NSCLC was observed (P = .667). The toxicities observed were consistent with toxicities associated with concurrent chemoradiotherapy.
The combination of pemetrexed, carboplatin, and TRT met the prespecified criteria for further evaluation. This regimen should be studied further in patients with locally advanced unresectable nonsquamous NSCLC.
PMCID: PMC3157978  PMID: 21747084

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