Gefitinib Monotherapy in Chemotherapy-Naive Patients with Inoperable Stage III/IV Non-Small-Cell Lung Cancer

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Gefitinib is an orally active epidermal growth factor receptor tyrosine kinase inhibitor with activity in previously treated patients with advanced-stage non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC). However, little is known of its activity as monotherapy in chemotherapy-naive patients. This phase II study (1839IL/0456) evaluated first-line gefitinib in patients with advanced-stage NSCLC.


Eligible patients with proven inoperable stage III/IV NSCLC, no previous chemotherapy, and a performance status of 0-2 received gefitinib 250 mg per day until disease progression. Patient reevaluation was performed by radiography and computed tomography at regular intervals.


Fifty-eight of 59 patients were available for analysis. Response rate (complete plus partial responses) was 5% (3 of 58 patients); 40% (23 of 58 patients) exhibited stable disease (overall disease control rate, 45% [26 of 58 patients]). Median progression-free survival was 7 weeks, and median overall survival was 29 weeks. All responders were women and/or nonsmokers with adenocarcinoma or bronchoalveolar carcinoma. Gefitinib treatment was well tolerated; skin toxicities occurred in 71% of patients, including severe skin toxicities in 2 patients, and mild to moderate diarrhea occurred in 50% of patients.


Gefitinib monotherapy has some efficacy in chemotherapy-naive patients with advanced-stage or metastatic NSCLC. However, activity seems to be limited to particular patient groups.

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