Cetuximab increases survival in advanced colorectal cancer patients, study shows

PHILADELPHIA -- Research presented today at the 2007 Annual Meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research confirmed that there is now an effective treatment option for colorectal cancer patients for whom all other treatment options have been exhausted cetuximab.

In a study of 572 colorectal cancer patients, researchers in Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Singapore found that cetuximab, marketed under the brand-name Erbitux, improved survival time and slowed progression of the disease. Support for the study was provided by Bristol-Myers Squibb Company and ImClone Systems Incorporated.

"Cetuximab improved survival in these patients when all other therapies had failed," said Derek Jonker, M.D., assistant professor at the University of Ottawa and Canadian co-chair of the study. "This is the first time a single agent biologically targeted therapy has demonstrated a survival advantage in patients with colorectal cancer, and it is also the first time an EGFR-targeting drug has achieved this goal."

Conducted by the National Cancer Institute of Canada Clinical Trials Group (NCIC CTG) in collaboration with the Australasian Gastro-Intestinal Trials Group (AGITG), the study, called CO.17, was a randomized, multi-center, phase III trial. It compared cetuximab plus best supportive care to best supportive care alone in patients with metastatic colorectal cancer whose disease was no longer responding to all available chemotherapy, including irinotecan, oxaliplatin and fluoropyrimidines.

The goal of the CO.17 study was to evaluate the effect of cetuximab on survival in patients with advanced colorectal cancer who are without other options for treatment other than supportive care.

Study participants were randomly selected either to receive best supportive care alone, or best supportive care plus cetuximab intravenously weekly until the cancer progressed further. According to Jonker, the researchers defined best supp

Contact: Staci Vernick Goldberg
American Association for Cancer Research

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