For patients with pretreated, advanced non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), who do not harbor targetable molecular alterations, erlotinib may have similar efficacy compared with chemotherapy, a study in press for publication in Lung Cancer suggests.1

The use of erlotinib in patients with EGFR wildtype, advanced NSCLC remains controversial; researchers therefore conducted a propensity-adjusted, outcomes research-based study to evaluate the efficacy of erlotinib in comparison to chemotherapy.

Investigators analyzed data from 227 patients who received at least 2 lines of palliative systemic therapy between January 2005 and December 2014 and who had no known targetable driver mutations. No patients had received immunotherapy.

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Of enrolled patients, 125 received erlotinib, including 89 as second-line therapy, 28 as third-line, and 8 as further-line therapy. The other 102 patients received chemotherapy only.

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The authors note that women and never-smokers were significantly overrepresented in the erlotinib group.

Both both overall survival (hazard ratio, 1.14; 95% CI, 0.80-1.63; P = .448) and progression-free survival (hazard ratio, 1.20; 95% CI, 0.95-1.52; P = .119) were similar in the erlotinib-treated patients versus those in the chemotherapy group.

ECOG performance status was the greatest variable for selecting patients to receive erlotinib therapy.


  1. Neumair P, Joos L, Warschkow R, et al. Erlotinib has comparable clinical efficacy to chemotherapy in pretreated patients with advanced non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC): a propensity-adjusted, outcomes research-based study. Lung Cancer. In press. doi: 10.1016/j.lungcan.2016.07.027