Impact of sex on the efficacy and safety of panitumumab plus fluorouracil and folinic acid versus fluorouracil and folinic acid alone as maintenance therapy in RAS WT metastatic colorectal cancer (mCRC). Subgroup analysis of the PanaMa-study (AIO-KRK-0212)

ESMO Open. 2023 Aug;8(4):101568. doi: 10.1016/j.esmoop.2023.101568. Epub 2023 Jul 11.


Background: Clinical trials in metastatic colorectal cancer (mCRC) are usually conducted irrespective of sex. Sex-associated differences relating to safety and efficacy in the treatment of mCRC, however, are gaining interest.

Methods: PanaMa investigated the efficacy of panitumumab (Pmab) plus fluorouracil and folinic acid (FU/FA) versus FU/FA alone after induction therapy with six cycles of FU/FA and oxaliplatin plus Pmab in patients with RAS wild-type mCRC. In this post hoc analysis, the study population was stratified for sex. Evaluated efficacy endpoints during maintenance treatment were progression-free survival (PFS, primary endpoint of the trial), overall survival (OS) and objective response rate during maintenance therapy. Safety endpoints were rates of any grade and grade 3/4 adverse events during maintenance therapy.

Results: In total, 165 male and 83 female patients were randomized and treated. Male and female patients showed numerically better objective response rates with Pmab, without reaching statistical significance. Male patients derived a significant benefit from the addition of Pmab to maintenance treatment with regard to PFS [hazard ratio (HR) 0.63; 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.45-0.88; P = 0.006] that was not observed in female patients (HR 0.85; 95% CI 0.53-1.35; P = 0.491). The better PFS for male patients treated with Pmab did not translate into improved OS (HR 0.85; 95% CI 0.55-1.30; P = 0.452). Female patients showed numerically improved OS when treated with Pmab. There was no difference in the total of grade ≥3 adverse events during maintenance regarding sex (P = 0.791). Female patients, however, had a higher rate of any grade nausea, diarrhea and stomatitis.

Conclusions: In the PanaMa trial, the addition of Pmab to maintenance treatment of RAS wild-type mCRC with FU/FA improved the outcome in terms of the primary endpoint (PFS) particularly in male patients. Female patients did not show the same benefit while experiencing higher rates of adverse events. Our results support the development of sex-specific protocols.

Keywords: EGFR-antibodies; colorectal cancer; maintenance; sex.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols / adverse effects
  • Colonic Neoplasms* / drug therapy
  • Colorectal Neoplasms* / pathology
  • Female
  • Fluorouracil / adverse effects
  • Humans
  • Leucovorin / adverse effects
  • Male
  • Panitumumab / pharmacology
  • Panitumumab / therapeutic use
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Panitumumab
  • Leucovorin
  • Fluorouracil