Erlotinib as salvage treatment after failure to first-line gefitinib in non-small cell lung cancer

Cancer Chemother Pharmacol. 2010 May;65(6):1023-8. doi: 10.1007/s00280-009-1107-5. Epub 2009 Aug 13.


Purpose: Chemotherapy is the mainstay treatment for advanced non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). Gefitinib, an epidermal growth factor receptor-tyrosine kinase inhibitor (EGFR-TKI), has been recently shown to be effective as a first-line treatment in Asian patients with advanced NSCLC, especially for those with favourable clinical features such as female, non-smoker and adenocarcinoma. However, resistance to gefitinib ensues invariably and there is little evidence as for the effectiveness of subsequent salvage treatment. The purpose of this study is to evaluate the efficacy of erlotinib, another EGFR-TKI, after failed first-line use of gefitinib.

Method: Retrospective review of NSCLC patients with favourable clinical features who received gefitinib as first-line treatment and subsequent salvage treatment with erlotinib.

Results: A total of 21 patients with NSCLC were included in the study. Among them, 18 (85.7%) patients had disease control with gefitinib and 12 (57.1%) patients with salvage erlotinib. There was an association between the disease control with gefitinib and erlotinib (p = 0.031). The disease control rate of erlotinib was independent of the chemotherapy use between the two EGFR-TKIs.

Conclusion: For NSCLC patients with favourable clinical features, erlotinib was effective in those who had prior disease control with first-line gefitinib.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung / drug therapy*
  • Erlotinib Hydrochloride
  • Female
  • Gefitinib
  • Humans
  • Kaplan-Meier Estimate
  • Lung Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Protein Kinase Inhibitors / therapeutic use
  • Quinazolines / therapeutic use*
  • Salvage Therapy / methods*
  • Treatment Failure


  • Protein Kinase Inhibitors
  • Quinazolines
  • Erlotinib Hydrochloride
  • Gefitinib