Cetuximab plus chemotherapy is a first-line treatment option in metastatic KRAS and NRAS wild-type colorectal cancer (CRC) patients. No data are currently available on continuing anti-epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) therapy beyond progression.Patients and methods
We did this open-label, 1:1 randomized phase II trial at 25 hospitals in Italy to evaluate the efficacy of cetuximab plus 5-fluorouracil, folinic acid and oxaliplatin (FOLFOX) as second-line treatment of KRAS exon 2 wild-type metastatic CRC patients treated in first line with 5-fluorouracil, folinic acid and irinotecan (FOLFIRI) plus cetuximab. Patients received FOLFOX plus cetuximab (arm A) or FOLFOX (arm B). Primary end point was progression-free survival (PFS). Tumour tissues were assessed by next-generation sequencing (NGS). This report is the final analysis.Results
Between 1 February 2010 and 28 September 2014, 153 patients were randomized (74 in arm A and 79 in arm B). Median PFS was 6.4 [95% confidence interval (CI) 4.7–8.0] versus 4.5 months (95% CI 3.3–5.7); [hazard ratio (HR), 0.81; 95% CI 0.58–1.12; P = 0.19], respectively. NGS was performed in 117/153 (76.5%) cases; 66/117 patients (34 in arm A and 32 in arm B) had KRAS, NRAS, BRAF and PIK3CA wild-type tumours. For these patients, PFS was longer in the FOLFOX plus cetuximab arm [median 6.9 (95% CI 5.5–8.2) versus 5.3 months (95% CI 3.7–6.9); HR, 0.56 (95% CI 0.33–0.94); P = 0.025]. There was a trend in better overall survival: median 23.7 [(95% CI 19.4–28.0) versus 19.8 months (95% CI 14.9–24.7); HR, 0.57 (95% CI 0.32–1.02); P = 0.056].Conclusions
Continuing cetuximab treatment in combination with chemotherapy is of potential therapeutic efficacy in molecularly selected patients and should be validated in randomized phase III trials.