Gefitinib in patients with brain metastasesfrom non-small-cell lung cancer: A prospective trial

Giovanni L. Ceresoli, F. Cappuzzo, V. Gregorc, S. Bartolini, L. Crinò, E. Villa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Brain metastases are a common occurrence in patients with non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC). Whole-brain radiotherapy (WBRT) is the standard therapy; more aggressive approaches such as surgery or radiosurgery are indicated in a subset of patients only. The role of systemic treatments remains controversial. Gefitinib is an oral, highly tolerable, specific inhibitor of epidermal growth factor receptor-associated tyrosine kinase, which has shown activity in chemotherapy pretreated NSCLC. The aim of this study was to evaluate the activity and safety of gefitinib in NSCLC patients with brain metastases. Patients and methods: From January 2001 to May 2003, 41 consecutive NSCLC patients with measurable brain metastases were treated with gefitinib, given orally at daily dose of 250mg. Thirty-seven patients had received previous chemotherapy and 18 patients had been treated previously with WBRT, completed at least 3 months before entering the trial. Results: A partial response (PR) was observed in four patients (10%), with stable disease (SD) in seven cases, for an overall disease control (DC) rate (DC = PR+SD) of 27% (95% confidence interval 13% to 40%). Median duration of PR was 13.5 months. Median progression-free survival (PFS) of the whole population was 3 months. DC rate was higher in patients pre-treated with WBRT (P = 0.05) and with adenocarcinoma histological type (P = 0.08); adenocarcinoma patients had also a longer PFS (P = 0.04). Toxicity was mild and consisted of grade 1/2 skin toxicity and diarrhoea, occurring in 24% and 10% of patients, respectively. Conclusions: Gefitinib can be active on brain disease in NSCLC patients. Since the results of standard therapy for brain metastases in this clinical setting are particularly disappointing, gefitinib appears to be a possible new treatment option.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1042-1047
Number of pages6
JournalAnnals of Oncology
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2004


  • Brain metastases
  • Gefitinib
  • Non-small-cell lung cancer

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cancer Research
  • Oncology


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