Purpose: Both tyrosine kinase inhibitors targeting the vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) receptor and bevacizumab, a monoclonal antibody targeting VEGF, have antitumor activity in neuroendocrine tumors (NETs). Temozolomide, an oral analog of dacarbazine, also has activity against NETs when administered alone or in combination with other agents. We performed a phase II study to evaluate the efficacy of temozolomide in combination with bevacizumab in patients with locally advanced or metastatic NETs.
Patients and methods: Thirty-four patients (56% with carcinoid, 44% with pancreatic NETs) were treated with temozolomide 150 mg/m(2) orally per day on days 1 through 7 and days 15 through 21, together with bevacizumab at a dose of 5 mg/kg per day intravenously on days 1 and 15 of each 28-day cycle. All patients received prophylaxis against Pneumocystis carinii and varicella zoster. Patients were followed for toxicity, biochemical and radiologic response, and survival.
Results: The combination of temozolomide and bevacizumab was associated with anticipated grade 3 to 4 toxicities, including lymphopenia (53%) and thrombocytopenia (18%). Although the overall radiographic response rate was 15% (five of 34), response rates differed between patients with pancreatic NETs (33%; five of 15) and those with carcinoid tumors (zero of 19). The median progression-free survival was 11.0 months (14.3 months for pancreatic NETs v 7.3 months for carcinoid tumors). The median overall survival was 33.3 months (41.7 months for pancreatic NETs v 18.8 months for carcinoid tumors).
Conclusion: Temozolomide and bevacizumab can be safely administered together in patients with advanced NETs, and the combination regimen appears promising for patients with pancreatic NETs. Studies evaluating the relative contributions of these two agents to the observed antitumor activity are warranted.