Chemotherapy-Tarceva Combination May Be Effective for Some Lung Cancer Patients

Results from the FASTACT clinical trial suggest that interspersing erlotinib (Tarceva) among rounds of chemotherapy improves outcomes in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). Patients with advanced NSCLC received six cycles of gemcitabine (Gemzar) plus carboplatin (Paraplatin) or cisplatin (Platinol), with Tarceva added during the second half of each chemotherapy cycle. This regimen prolonged time without cancer worsening and increased survival compared to patients who had received chemotherapy and placebo, though the benefit was only seen in patients with mutations in the EGFR gene. This approach may be most useful for patients whose EGFR status is unknown, as patients with known EGFR mutations may be even better served by first-line treatment with Tarceva alone.