Among patients with previously treated non-small cell lung cancer, the combination of Sutent® (sunitinib) and Tarceva® (erlotinib) delays cancer progression but does not improve overall survival compared with Tarceva alone. The results of this Phase III clinical trial were made available in a press release from Pfizer and will also be presented at an upcoming medical meeting.

Treatment of advanced non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) often involves chemotherapy. Currently available combination chemotherapy regimens can improve the duration of survival as well as quality of life, but researchers continue to search for ways to improve outcomes for patients with this disease.

Tarceva is a targeted therapy that works by blocking a biological pathway referred to as the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) pathway. The EGFR pathway is involved in cell growth and replication. Tarceva may be used for treatment of NSCLC after failure of initial chemotherapy, for NSCLC maintenance therapy, or for treatment of advanced pancreatic cancer.

Sutent is an oral targeted agent that works by inhibiting multiple biologic pathways involved in the growth, replication, and spread of cancer cells. It has been shown to be effective in the treatment of selected patients with kidney cancer or gastrointestinal stromal tumors, and is also being evaluated in the treatment of other types of cancer. Phase II studies have indicated that the combination of Tarceva and Sutent is active in NSCLC.

To evaluate the combination of Sutent and Tarceva for the treatment of patients with advanced NSCLC, researchers conducted a large, double-blind Phase III clinical trial among patients with previously treated advanced NSCLC. Patients were randomized to receive Sutent combined with Tarceva or Tarceva plus a placebo. The combination of Sutent and Tarceva did not improve overall survival but did significantly improve progression-free survival compared with Tarceva and placebo. Patients in this study were reported to experience no new or unexpected treatment side effects.

Detailed results from this study are expected to be presented at the 35th European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO) conference in October.


Pfizer news release. Topline Results From Phase 3 Trial of Sunitinib With Erlotinib in Advanced Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer (NSCLC). August 23, 2010.

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