Randomized phase II study of gefitinib versus erlotinib in patients with advanced non-small cell lung cancer who failed previous chemotherapy

Lung Cancer. 2012 Jan;75(1):82-8. doi: 10.1016/j.lungcan.2011.05.022.


Purpose: Gefitinib and erlotinib are potent EGFR TKIs, with antitumor activity. In this randomized, single-center, non-comparative phase II trial, the efficacy and safety of gefitinib and erlotinib was evaluated as the second-line therapy for advanced non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC).

Patients and methods: Patients with locally advanced, metastatic stage IIIB/IV NSCLC who failed first-line chemotherapy and had either EGFR mutation or at least two out of three clinical factors associated with higher incidence of EGFR mutations (female, adenocarcinoma histology, and never-smoker) were eligible.

Results: A total of 96 (48 per arm) patients were randomly assigned to gefitinib- or erlotinib-arm, respectively. Baseline characteristics were well-balanced between the two arms. The response rates (RR) were 47.9% in the gefitinib arm and 39.6% in the erlotinib arm. Median PFS was 4.9 months (95% CI, 1.3-8.5) in the gefitinib arm and 3.1 months (95% CI, 0.0-6.4) in the erlotinib arm. The most common grade 3/4 toxicity was skin rash. Exploratory analyses showed that there was no significant difference in RR and PFS in the gefitinib arm compared to the erlotinib arm (RR (%) 47.9 vs. 39.6, p=0.269; median survival (months) 4.9 vs. 3.1, p=0.336). There was no significant difference in QOL between the two arms.

Conclusion: Both gefitinib and erlotinib showed effective activity and tolerable toxicity profiles as second-line treatment for the selected population of NSCLC. We may consider conducting a phase III trial to directly compare the efficacy and toxicity between gefitinib and erlotinib in an enriched patient population.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial, Phase II
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Antineoplastic Agents / adverse effects
  • Antineoplastic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung / drug therapy*
  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung / enzymology
  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung / genetics
  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung / pathology
  • Drug Resistance, Neoplasm
  • ErbB Receptors / antagonists & inhibitors
  • ErbB Receptors / genetics
  • Erlotinib Hydrochloride
  • Female
  • Gefitinib
  • Humans
  • Lung Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Lung Neoplasms / enzymology
  • Lung Neoplasms / genetics
  • Lung Neoplasms / pathology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mutation
  • Neoplasm Staging / methods
  • Protein Kinase Inhibitors / therapeutic use*
  • Quality of Life
  • Quinazolines / adverse effects
  • Quinazolines / therapeutic use*


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Protein Kinase Inhibitors
  • Quinazolines
  • Erlotinib Hydrochloride
  • EGFR protein, human
  • ErbB Receptors
  • Gefitinib