(HealthDay News) — Treatment with epidermal growth factor receptor inhibitor erlotinib combined with cisplatin-based chemoradiation seems safe and effective for locally advanced cervical cancer, according to a study published online March 10 in Cancer.

Angelica Nogueira-Rodrigues, MD, PhD, from the National Cancer Institute in Rio de Janeiro, and colleagues conducted a phase 2 trial of erlotinib combined with cisplatin-based chemoradiation. Women with stage IIB to IIIB epidermoid cervical cancer with no prior therapy and with an Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group performance status of 0–2 were recruited. Treatment comprised 150mg/day erlotinib for one week before and in combination with cisplatin (40mg/m² administered weekly for five cycles) and radiotherapy (4,500 centigrays in 25 fractions), followed by brachytherapy (four fractions at a dose of 600 centigrays weekly).

Thirty-six women completed the treatment. The researchers found the median therapy duration to be 77 days and patients were followed for a median of 59.3 months. Most patients (94.4%) achieved a complete response and therapy was well tolerated overall. The cumulative overall and progression-free survival rates, respectively, were 91.7 and 80.6% at two years and 80 and 73.8% at three years.

“To the best of [our] knowledge, this is the first study to date to demonstrate that a target agent has promising activity against locally advanced cervical cancer,” the authors write.

Erlotinib was supplied by Roche Pharmaceuticals.

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