PURPOSE - Given the unprecedented efficacy of EGFR tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKI) in advanced EGFR-mutant lung cancer, adjuvant TKI therapy is an appealing strategy. However, there are conflicting findings regarding the potential benefit of adjuvant EGFR-TKI in patients with lung cancer harboring EGFR mutations. To better understand these results, we studied the natural history of lung cancers which recurred despite adjuvant TKI.
EXPERIMENTAL DESIGN - Patients with recurrent EGFR-mutant lung cancer following adjuvant TKI were identified using an Institutional Review Board-approved mechanism. Recurrent cancer specimens were tested for resistance mutations. Sensitivity to retreatment with EGFR-TKI was evaluated.
RESULTS - Twenty-two patients with cancers harboring an EGFR sensitizing mutation received adjuvant erlotinib or gefitinib for a median of 17 months (range 1-37 months). T790M was more common in cancers which recurred while receiving TKI than in those which recurred after stopping TKI (67% vs. 0%, P = 0.011). Fourteen patients who developed recurrence after stopping EGFR-TKI were retreated, with a median time to progression of 10 months and radiographic response seen in 8 of 11 patients with evaluable disease (73%).
CONCLUSIONS - Recurrence of EGFR-mutant lung cancer after stopping adjuvant TKI should not preclude a trial of TKI retreatment; a phase II trial of erlotinib in this setting is underway. Studies of adjuvant EGFR-TKI will underestimate the potential survival benefit of adjuvant TKI for patients with EGFR-mutant lung cancers if retreatment at recurrence is not given.