Background: In the placebo-controlled phase III SATURN study, maintenance erlotinib after first-line chemotherapy demonstrated significantly prolonged progression-free survival (PFS) and overall survival (OS) in the overall study population of patients with advanced non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC).
Methods: After four cycles of platinum-based doublet chemotherapy, patients without progressive disease (PD) were randomised to erlotinib (150 mg/day) or placebo until PD or unacceptable toxicity. In this pre-planned analysis, data are assessed according to response to first-line chemotherapy (complete/partial response [CR/PR] or stable disease [SD]).
Results: Following first-line chemotherapy, 889 non-PD patients were included in the intention-to-treat population (55% SD; 44% CR/PR; <1% unknown response). Erlotinib maintenance therapy significantly prolonged PFS in both the SD (hazard ratio [HR] = 0.68; P < 0.0001) and CR/PR (HR = 0.74; P = 0.0059) groups, while OS was significantly prolonged in the SD group only (HR = 0.72; P = 0.0019). The erlotinib-related OS benefit in the SD group remained significant across subgroups, irrespective of tumour histology and/or EGFR mutation status. The incidence of adverse events was similar in the SD group and the overall population, and erlotinib treatment did not negatively impact quality of life.
Conclusions: Patients with advanced NSCLC and SD following first-line platinum-based doublet chemotherapy derive a significant OS benefit from maintenance erlotinib therapy.