Afatinib Works Best in Patients Whose Lung Cancer Has Specific Mutation in EGFR Gene

The gist: Afatinib (Gilotrif) works better than chemotherapy for people with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) whose tumors have a specific mutation in the EGFR gene. This mutation is known as exon 19 deletion. In a recent clinical trial, some patients with exon 19 deletion were treated with Gilotrif and some with chemotherapy. The patients who received Gilotrif lived significantly longer than the patients who received chemotherapy. All patients had stage IIIB or IV lung adenocarcinoma.

“Patients with lung adenocarcinoma who harbored exon 19 deletion EGFR mutations experienced significantly longer OS when treated with first-line afatinib instead of chemotherapy, according to analyses of results from two phase 3 trials.

“However, researchers did not observe the survival benefit among patients with other types of EGFR mutations.

“ ‘These data provide important evidence about the use of afatinib in patients whose tumors have the del19 mutation and tell us that the standard treatments and approaches should no longer be assumed equivalent for every EGFR mutation,’ Lecia V. Sequist, MD, MPH, medical oncologist at Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center and associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, said in a press release.”