Ramalingam Shares Notable Updates in NCCN Guidelines for EGFR+ NSCLC

Excerpt:

“Among the notable updates in the National Comprehensive Cancer Network’s (NCCN) recently released  treatment guidelines for non–small cell cancer (NSCLC) is the category 2A recommendation to give osimertinib (Tagrisso), a third-generation irreversible EGFR inhibitor designed to inhibit both EGFR-sensitizing and EGFR T790M-resistance mutations, in the first-line setting for patients whose disease is EGFR mutant, explains Suresh A. Ramalingam, MD.

“Osimertinib was also given a category 1 recommendation as a subsequent therapy after patients progressed on treatment with standard EGFR tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs) erlotinib (Tarceva), gefitinib (Iressa), and afatinib (Gilotrif). The FDA granted a breakthrough therapy designation to a supplemental biologics license application for osimertinib as a frontline treatment for patients with metastatic EGFR-mutation–positive NSCLC in October 2017. The application was based on findings from the double-blind, phase III FLAURA trial, in which frontline osimertinib was associated with a 54% reduction in the risk of progression or death compared with standard therapy.”

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Update Sustains Osimertinib Activity Against CNS Mets in NSCLC

Excerpt:

“New results again demonstrated the benefit of frontline osimertinib (Tagrisso) in patients with EGFR-positive advanced non–small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) and CNS metastases at baseline, according to data presented at the 2017 ESMO Asia Congress.

“The subgroup analysis from the phase III FLAURA trial included 128 patients with at least 1 measurable and/or nonmeasurable CNS lesion at baseline. Among 61 patients who received osimertinib, the CNS objective response rate (ORR) was 66%, compared to 43% (odds ratio, 2.5; 95% CI 1.2-5.2; P = .011) in 67 patients who received standard EGFR TKI therapy with erlotinib (Tarceva) or gefitinib (Iressa).”

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Osimertinib Continues to Show Impressive Activity in EGFR+ NSCLC

Excerpt:

“Osimertinib (Tagrisso) has impressed researchers in the field of EGFR-mutant non–small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), most recently with results from the phase III FLAURA trial solidifying its benefit.

“In FLAURA, treatment with frontline osimertinib led to a median progression-free survival (PFS) of 18.9 months (95% CI, 15.2-21.4). This represented a 54% risk reduction in progression or death compared with a standard EGFR tyrosine kinase inhibitor (TKI) for patients with locally advanced or metastatic EGFR-mutant NSCLC.”

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MET/EGFR Combo Effective for Advanced NSCLC

Excerpt:

“The combination of osimertinib (Tagrisso) and the MET inhibitor savolitinib showed signs of efficacy for pretreated patients with MET-positive, EGFR-mutant non–small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), regardless of prior treatment with a T790M-directed therapy, according to findings from part B of the TATTON trial presented at the 2017 World Conference on Lung Cancer (WCLC).

“Across patients in the phase Ib study (N = 64), the objective response rate (ORR) was 47% with the combination of osimertinib and savolitinib. In those pretreated with a T790M-directed therapy (n = 30), the ORR was 33% and in those with T790M-negative disease (n = 23) the ORR was 61%. In patients with T790M-positive disease (n = 11), the ORR was 55% for the combination.”

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EGFR-mutant NSCLC: Choice of First-Line Treatment May Get More Complicated


Medical guidelines for treatment of newly diagnosed non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) mandate upfront testing of tumor tissue for mutations in the EGFR gene (as well as ALK and ROS gene translocation). EGFR mutations are found in 10 to 15% of white patients, but in patients of East Asian origin such mutations are in encountered in approximately 48%. However, with new data and drugs entering the playing field, newly diagnosed patients’ treatment decisions could become more complex.

There is a good reason to test for EGFR mutations: the accumulated data show that, compared to first-line chemotherapy, treatment with drugs that inhibit the activity of EGFR in patients with activating EGFR mutations improves patients’ median progression-free survival (PFS) time from 4.6 to 6.9 months to 9.6 to 13.1 months, and has a higher objective response rate (ORR). Moreover, EGFR inhibitors are associated with a significantly lower incidence of adverse effects and better control of disease symptoms.

About 90% of EGFR mutations in EGFR are deletions in a portion of the gene known as exon 19 or a mutation in exon 21 (these mutations are known as del19 and L858R, respectively). The remaining mutations include alterations in exons 18 and 20, and these are associated with poor response to EGFR inhibitors.

The presence of the EGFR mutations del19 or L858R usually prompts doctors to prescribe one of the three EGFR inhibitors approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as a first-line treatment: erlotinib (Tarceva), gefitinib (Iressa), or afatinib (Gilotrif). Erlotinib and gefitinib are first-generation EGFR inhibitors, and afatinib is a second-generation drug. The first-generation inhibitors bind EGFR reversibly (they can attach and detach), whereas second generation inhibitors like afatinib bind to EGFR in an irreversible manner. All three inhibit not only the mutated EGFR protein, but also the normal EGFR that performs essential functions in some normal tissues. Afatinib also inhibits other members of the EGFR family of proteins (HER2 and HER4).

It is worth noting that none of these three drugs improve overall survival, with one exception, which I discuss later. The major side effects of EGFR inhibitors are skin rash and diarrhea, and the latter can be more severe with afatinib. In general, side effects are usually manageable and often transient, and by now, doctors have acquired much experience on how to alleviate them. Also, dose reductions to reduce side effects are possible with erlotinib and afatinib (but not with gefitinib). Gefitinib in general has lower risk of toxicities.

The choice between the three available inhibitors may depend on several factors: the oncologist’s preferences, the patient’s general condition, and importantly, the precise EGFR mutations identified in the patient’s tumor(s).

The del19 mutation is known to have the highest response rate to EGFR inhibitors amongst all EGFR mutations. A direct comparison in a large clinical trial showed an ORR of 72.5% with afatinib and 56% with gefitinib. There was no difference in PFS, but there was a trend in prolongation of overall survival with afatinib (27 versus 24 months).

Therefore, patients with del19 who are in a good overall condition should be given afatinib. The prevailing opinion is that gefitinib should be given to frail or older patients, or patients with other health concerns.

EGFR mutations other than L858R or del19, such as exon 20 insertions or exon 18 mutations, respond poorly to erlotinib and gefitinib. Patients whose tumors have these mutations do not have good treatment options, but are usually treated with afatinib, which has been shown to have better activity then first-generation inhibitors. There are now drugs in clinical trials specifically for patients with exon 20 insertions: a combination of poziotinib and AP32788, and osimertinib.

Obviously, the choice between the three FDA-approved first-line drugs requires careful consideration. However, it is apparently about to become a lot more difficult, with new contenders for first-line treatment in EGFR mutant NSCLC coming onto the scene. A combination of erlotinib with bevacizumab, a drug that limits blood supply to tumors, has already shown a superior PFS of 16 months versus 10 months with erlotinib alone. Another, and likely a stronger candidate, is osimertinib (Tagrisso), a third-generation inhibitor that does not bind to normal EGFR. Osimertinib is already FDA-approved for treatment of NSCLC with an EGFR mutation known as T790M.

T790M is very rarely found in untreated lung cancer, but arises during treatment with FDA-approved EGFR inhibitors in about 40 to 60% of patients, making them resistant to further treatment with first/second generation EGFR inhibitors. Osimertinib was developed to treat patients with T790M and has a reported ORR of 61%, which is very impressive. This is much higher than what is seen with chemotherapy in patients with resistance to first-line EGFR inhibitors: in a direct comparison in the AURA3 trial, a response rate of 71% was seen with osimertinib versus only 31% with chemotherapy. Moreover, osimertinib has activity (albeit much lower) even in the absence of a T790M mutation after resistance to erlotinib or gefitinb develops.

This latter feature led to testing of osimertinib as a first-line treatment in EGFR-mutant NSCLC. The trial included 60 patients who received two different doses of the drug, and the average ORR was 77%, with a median PFS of 20.5 months. These PFS data are much better than what is seen with any of the three FDA-approved first-line EGFR inhibitors (10 to 12 months).

There is a much larger trial ongoing, named FLAURA, which directly compares osimertinib with erlotinib or gefitinib in the frontline setting for patients with advanced EGFRmutant NSCLC. There is little doubt that the results, when published, would favor osimertinib, and this has been already announced in a press release issued by the trial sponsor.

It is possible that the FDA will approve osimertinib as the first-line treatment option for EGFR-positive NSCLC, which will make the choice of first-line drug difficult. What is better: sequence the available drugs, i.e., start with erlotinib followed by osimertinib when resistance develops (if T790M is identified), or give osimertinib outright?

Doing a simple calculation, erlotinib first may provide PFS of 9-13 months, followed by osimertinib (if T790M is present), adding another 10 months. Osimertinib given as first line can provide 20 months PFS. However, resistance to approved first-line EGFR inhibitors involves T790M in 40 to 60 % of patients, so perhaps it is more useful to use osimertinib right away? Not an easy question to answer. It would be wonderful if data could be somehow collected for the many patients who were treated with erlotinib, developed T790M mutation, and switched to osimertinib, rather than to conduct randomized trials. But this is unlikely to happen.


Tagrisso Significantly Improves Progression-Free Survival in the Phase III FLAURA Trial for Lung Cancer

Excerpt:

“AstraZeneca today announced that the Phase III FLAURA trial showed a statistically-significant and clinically-meaningful progression-free survival (PFS) benefit with Tagrisso (osimertinib) compared to current 1st-line standard-of-care treatment (erlotinib or gefitinib) in previously-untreated patients with locally-advanced or metastatic epidermal growth factor receptor mutation-positive (EGFRm) non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC).

“Sean Bohen, Executive Vice President, Global Medicines Development and Chief Medical Officer at AstraZeneca, said: ‘The strong results from the FLAURA trial are very exciting news for patients with EGFR mutation-positive non-small cell lung cancer, providing physicians with a potential new first-line treatment option to improve outcomes in this disease. We will now initiate discussions with global health authorities on the data and regulatory submissions.’ ”

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Tagrisso Shows Benefit in NSCLC Patients With CNS Metastases

Excerpt:

“AstraZeneca has presented new data showing that Tagrisso also extends progression-free survival for non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) patients who have central nervous system (CNS) metastases.

“According to findings from the AURA3 trial, patients with locally advanced or metastatic epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) T790M mutation-positive NSCLC given the drug lived without disease worsening or death for 11.7 months compared to 5.6 months for those receiving chemotherapy.”

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Tagrisso Demonstrates Superiority over Chemotherapy in EGFR T790M Mutation-Positive Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer

Excerpt:

“AstraZeneca today presented data from the AURA3 trial that data is supportive of Tagrisso (osimertinib) potentially becoming the new standard of care for 2nd-line treatment of patients with epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) T790M mutation-positive locally-advanced or metastatic non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). The first randomised Phase III data showed that Tagrisso 2nd-line therapy improved progression-free survival (PFS) by 5.7 months compared with standard platinum-based doublet chemotherapy (Hazard Ratio [HR]=0.3). The results were presented at the 17th World Conference on Lung Cancer (WCLC) in Vienna, Austria, hosted by the International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer, and published simultaneously online in The New England Journal of Medicine.”

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AZ' Tagrisso Hits Goals in Second-Line Lung Cancer Trial

Excerpt:

“A Phase III trial assessing AstraZeneca’s lung cancer drug Tagrisso has met its primary endpoint in showing superior progression-free survival compared to standard chemotherapy.

“The AURA3 trial assessed the efficacy and safety of Tagrisso (osimertinib) as a second-line treatment in more than 400 patients with EGFR T790M mutation-positive, locally-advanced or metastatic non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), whose disease had progressed following first-line EGFR tyrosine kinase inhibitor (TKI) therapy.

“Full data are to be unveiled at an upcoming medical conference, AZ said, but did also reveal that, in addition to PFS, the objective response rate, disease control rate and duration of response also achieved clinically meaningful improvement versus chemotherapy, while the drug’s safety profile was also consistent with earlier findings.”

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