Combination Therapy with Gemcitabine (GEM) and Erlotinib (E) in Exocrine Pancreatic Cancer under Special Reference to RASH and the Tumour Marker CA19-9

Anticancer Research, 05/17/2012

The data should motivate clinicians to focus their interest not only to 1st line therapy regimens with erlotinib, but also to 2nd and 3rd line strategies within the previously published concept of an efficacy–orientated sequential polychemotherapy or multimodal–therapy for pancreatic cancer.

Methods

  • The authors report on the results of a prospective treatment of 30 proven metastatic pancreatic cancer patients with the recently described combination of gemcitabine and erlotinib (GEM+E) (24× 1st line therapy, 8× 2nd line therapy).
  • Eight of these patients received GEM+E for treatment of metastastic tumour recurrence after previous resective surgery, followed by adjuvant chemotherapy with gemcitabine.
  • In 2 patients GEM+E was given as 1st line treatment and later, after complete response which was followed by a new recurrence, also as a second line therapy.
  • The evaluation of RASH severity grades, the course of the serum tumour marker CA19-9 were determined every 14 days and the evaluation of the imaging methods CT or MRT, evaluated every 6-8 weeks, revealed the following results: there was a tendency for RASH grades to correlate with the tumour response, however, with observed exceptions.
  • The decision for interruption or maintenance of GEM+E, therefore, should not be based on the RASH phenomenon, but on a detailed follow-up with imaging methods and the relevant tumour markers as in the follow-up before erlotinib introduction into pancreatic cancer therapy.
  • As known from previous studies tumour markers represent more sensitive parameters compared to the imaging methods.

Results

  • GEM+E was active in the whole group of patients, mainly given as 1st line therapy (34% PD, 29% SD, 47% MR, PR, CR), but also in the 2 subgroups: in the patients with GEM+E as 2nd line therapy, as well as in patients after previous adjuvant gemcitabine therapy after tumour resection.
  • In the 2 patients with transient-CR after 1st line therapy with GEM+E the 2nd line therapy also resulted in a CR with long lasting remission.

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