Efficacy and tolerability of gefitinib in pretreated elderly patients with advanced non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC)

F. Cappuzzo, S. Bartolini, G. L. Ceresoli, S. Tamberi, A. Spreafico, L. Lombardo, V. Gregorc, L. Toschi, C. Calandri, E. Villa, L. Crinò

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The activity and toxicity profile of gefitinib in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) patients aged 70 years or older has been only partially evaluated. The aim of this study was to evaluate the response rate and safety of gefitinib in elderly NSCLC patients. Elderly NSCLC patients pretreated with chemotherapy and with at least one measurable lesion received gefitinib at the daily dose of 250 mg until disease progression, unacceptable toxicity or refusal. From August 2001 to May 2003, 40 consecutive elderly patients have been enrolled onto the study in three Italian institutions. We observed one complete (2.5%) and one partial response (2.5%), 18 disease stabilisations (NC: 45%) lasting at least 2 months, including six patients (15%) who had disease stabilisation of 6 months or longer, for an overall disease control rate of 50% (95% CI: 34.5-65.5%). The median duration of response was 4.4 months (range 1.7-9.2). The side effects were generally mild and consisted of diarrhoea and skin toxicity. Grade 1-2 diarrhoea occurred in 23.6%, and one patient experienced grade 4 diarrhoea, requiring hospitalisation. Grade 1-2 skin toxicity, including rash, pruritus, dry skin, and acne, occurred in 20 patients (52.6%). Gefitinib is safe and well tolerated in elderly pretreated NSCLC patients. The disease-control rate achieved suggests that this drug could represent a valid option in the management of this unfavourable subgroup of patients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)82-86
Number of pages5
JournalBritish Journal of Cancer
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 12 2004


  • Non-small-cell lung cancer
  • Thyrosine kinase inhibitor elderly

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cancer Research
  • Oncology


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