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Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer Treatment (PDQ®): Treatment - Health Professional Information [NCI] - Stage IV NSCLC Treatment


Evidence (maintenance erlotinib following platinum-based doublet chemotherapy):

  1. One trial (NCT00556712) reported favorable outcomes with maintenance erlotinib after four cycles of platinum-based doublet chemotherapy in patients with stable disease.[49]
    1. In this trial, 889 patients with NSCLC but without progressive disease were randomly assigned to receive erlotinib (150 mg/day) or placebo until they experienced progressive disease or unacceptable toxicity.[49]
      • Median PFS was significantly longer with erlotinib than with placebo: 12.3 weeks for patients in the erlotinib group versus 11.1 weeks for those in the placebo group (HR, 0.71; 95% CI, 0.62–0.82; P < .0001).
      • In the overall population, patients whose tumors had activating EGFR mutations derived the greatest PFS benefit from maintenance erlotinib treatment (n = 49; HR, 0.10; P < .0001).
      • Patients whose tumors with wild-type EGFR also obtained significant PFS and OS improvements (HR, 0.78 and 0.77, respectively).
      • In the subgroup of patients with stable disease whose tumors did not have activating EGFR mutations (n = 217), both PFS and OS were significantly prolonged with erlotinib (HR, 0.72; 95% CI, 0.54–0.96; P = .0231 and HR, 0.65; 95% CI, 0.48–0.87; P = .0041, respectively).
      • In patients whose tumors had activating EGFR mutations (n = 30), OS was also improved with erlotinib (HR, 0.48; 95% CI, 0.14–1.62) but was not statistically significant in this analysis.[50]
      • EGFR IHC [immunohistochemistry], EGFR FISH [fluorescence in situ hybridization], KRAS mutation, and EGFR CA-SSR1 [simple sequence repeat 1] repeat length status were not predictive for erlotinib efficacy.[51]KRAS mutation status was a significant, negative prognostic factor for PFS.[51][Level of evidence: 1iDiii]

Radiation therapy

Radiation therapy may be effective in palliating symptomatic patients with local involvement of NSCLC with any of the following:

  • Tracheal, esophageal, or bronchial compression.
  • Pain.
  • Vocal cord paralysis.
  • Hemoptysis.
  • Superior vena cava syndrome.

In some cases, endobronchial laser therapy and/or brachytherapy have been used to alleviate proximal obstructing lesions.[1]

Although EBRT is frequently prescribed for symptom palliation, there is no consensus on which fractionation scheme should be used. Although different multifraction regimens appear to provide similar symptom relief,[52,53,54,55,56,57] single-fraction radiation may be insufficient for symptom relief compared with hypofractionated or standard regimens, as evidenced in the NCT00003685 trial.[2][Level of evidence: 1iiC] Evidence of a modest increase in survival in patients with a better PS given high-dose radiation therapy is available.[4,58][Level of evidence: 1iiA] In closely observed asymptomatic patients, treatment may often be appropriately deferred until symptoms or signs of a progressive tumor develop.

Evidence (radiation therapy):

  1. A systematic review identified six randomized trials of high-dose rate brachytherapy (HDREB) alone or with EBRT or laser therapy.[59]
    • Better overall symptom palliation and fewer re-treatments were required in previously untreated patients using EBRT alone.[59][Level of evidence: 1iiC]
    • HDREB provided palliation of symptomatic patients with recurrent endobronchial obstruction previously treated by EBRT, when it was technically feasible.

WebMD Public Information from the National Cancer Institute

Last Updated: February 25, 2014
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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