Comparison of gefitinib and erlotinib in advanced NSCLC and the effect of EGFR mutations

Lung Cancer. 2011 May;72(2):205-12. doi: 10.1016/j.lungcan.2010.08.013. Epub 2010 Sep 15.


Introduction: Erlotinib and gefitinib are tyrosine kinase (TK) inhibitors of epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) that are effective in treating non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). This study aimed to compare their clinical uses and the influence of EGFR mutation.

Methods: The usages of erlotinib and gefitinib in advanced NSCLC were analyzed. Clinical data and EGFR mutational status of tumors were collected.

Results: Seven hundred and sixteen (716) patients received gefitinib (n=440) or erlotinib (n=276) for stage IIIb or IV NSCLC. Erlotinib was prescribed more frequently than gefitinib in males (58.2% vs. 41.8%, p<0.001), smokers (60.5% vs. 39.5%, p<0.001), and non-adenocarcinoma (70.6% vs. 29.4%, p<0.001). Of the 716 study patients, 327 underwent testing for EGFR mutations (170 with mutant EGFR and 157 with wild-type EGFR). Adenocarcinoma in patients with mutant EGFR and non-smoker status in patients with wild-type EGFR were associated with better overall survival after TK inhibitor treatment. In both patient groups with mutant EGFR or wild-type EGFR, the effectiveness of gefitinib and erlotinib, including drug response or overall survival, were not different.

Conclusions: Our study revealed the obvious disparity in drug selection between erlotinib and gefitinib in clinical practice. Type of TK inhibitors did not influence treatment outcomes in patients with EGFR mutation or wild-type EGFR.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols / therapeutic use*
  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung / drug therapy*
  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung / genetics
  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung / mortality
  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung / pathology
  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung / physiopathology
  • DNA Mutational Analysis
  • Erlotinib Hydrochloride
  • Female
  • Gefitinib
  • Genes, erbB-1
  • Humans
  • Lung Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Lung Neoplasms / genetics
  • Lung Neoplasms / mortality
  • Lung Neoplasms / pathology
  • Lung Neoplasms / physiopathology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mutation / genetics
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Quinazolines / administration & dosage
  • Quinazolines / adverse effects
  • Survival Analysis


  • Quinazolines
  • Erlotinib Hydrochloride
  • Gefitinib