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Afatinib treatment in advanced non-small cell lung cancer

Authors Hurwitz J, Scullin, Campbell L

Published 7 October 2011 Volume 2011:2 Pages 47—57


Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 2

Jane L Hurwitz, Paula Scullin, Lynn Campbell
Department of Medical Oncology, Northern Ireland Cancer Centre, Belfast, UK

Abstract: Despite some recent advances in the management of advanced non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), prognosis for these patients remains poor. Small molecule epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs) have however provided a new therapeutic option in this disease setting and EGFR mutation testing is now routine practice for newly diagnosed NSCLC patients. A proportion of patients will not respond to first-generation EGFR-TKIs however, and those who do will ultimately develop resistance and disease relapse. Next-generation EGFR-TKIs which inhibit multiple members of the EGFR family are being developed in order to increase sensitivity and overcome resistance to existing agents. Afatinib (BIBW 2992) is an oral, irreversible inhibitor of EGFR and HER2 tyrosine kinases and is the most advanced of these agents in clinical development. Pre-clinical and early-phase clinical trials have demonstrated a favorable safety profile as a single agent and in combination with other anti-cancer agents, and provide evidence of clinical activity in advanced NSCLC. The LUX-Lung trials suggest that for selected patients, afatinib offers symptomatic improvement and prolonged progression-free survival, although this has not yet translated into improved overall survival. This article aims to review the use of EGFR-TKIs in the management of advanced NSCLC and the mechanisms underlying resistance to these agents. We will discuss the current pre-clinical and clinical data regarding afatinib, its potential to overcome resistance to first-generation TKIs, and its emerging role in advanced NSCLC treatment.

Keywords: EGFR, tyrosine kinase inhibitor, mutation, LUX-lung

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