July 15, 2009

Tarceva® Maintenance Therapy Improves Overall Lung Cancer Survival


In a Phase III clinical trial, patients with advanced non–small cell lung cancer lived longer if they received treatment with Tarceva® (erlotinib) immediately following initial chemotherapy. These results were made available in a press release from Roche.

Lung cancer remains the leading cause of cancer death in the United States. Non–small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) accounts for approximately 85% of all lung cancers.

Treatment of advanced NSCLC often involves chemotherapy. Currently available combination chemotherapy regimens can improve the duration of survival as well as quality of life, but researchers continue to search for ways to improve outcomes for patients with this disease.

Tarceva is a targeted therapy that works by blocking a biological pathway referred to as the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) pathway. The EGFR pathway is involved in cell growth and replication. Tarceva has been approved for treatment of NSCLC after failure of initial chemotherapy, and is also approved for the treatment of advanced pancreatic cancer.

The safety and effectiveness of Tarceva maintenance therapy was evaluated in a Phase III clinical trial known as SATURN. Maintenance therapy refers to treatment that is given after initial treatment but before cancer progression. It is a relatively new approach to lung cancer treatment.

The study enrolled more than 880 patients with advanced NSCLC that had not progressed following initial, platinum-based chemotherapy. Half the patients received Tarceva maintenance therapy and half received a placebo.

Previous findings from this study indicated that Tarceva improved progression-free survival (the amount of time patients lived without their disease getting worse).

The current analysis focused on overall survival, and found that patients treated with Tarceva lived longer than patients treated with placebo. Detailed results will be presented at the 13th World Conference on Lung Cancer held July 31-August 4, 2009.

This study suggests that treatment with Tarceva immediately after initial chemotherapy improves both progression-free and overall survival among patients with advanced NSCLC.

Reference: Roche Media Release. New data from phase III SATURN study shows Tarceva improves overall survival when used immediately after initial chemotherapy in patients with advanced lung cancer.  Available at: http://www.roche.com/media/media_releases/med-cor-2009-07-13.htm Accessed July 13, 2009.

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