Background: Mechanisms of resistance have been described during disease progression (PD) for patients under treatment with anti-EGFR plus chemotherapy (CT). The aim of our study was to evaluate efficacy of anti-EGFR rechallenge (ReCH) and reintroduction (ReIn) in metastatic colorectal cancer (mCRC).
Materials and methods: This is a retrospective analysis of patients with mCRC that previously received anti-EGFR CT and interrupted therapy due to PD in the ReCH group and other reasons in the ReIn group. We aimed to describe progression-free survival (PFS), overall survival (OS) and response rate (RR) after re-exposure and to evaluate prognostic factors associated with PFS.
Results: Sixty-eight patients met the inclusion criteria. The median follow-up after re-exposure was 39.3 months. ReCH was adopted in 25% and ReIn in 75%. The median anti-EGFR free interval was at 10.5 months. At re-exposure, the main CT regimen was FOLFIRI in 58.8%. Cetuximab and Panitumumab were used in 59 and 9 patients, respectively. mPFS for ReCH and ReIn was 3.3 × 8.4 months, respectively (p 0.001). The objective response rate for ReCH and ReIn was 18% and 52%, respectively. In univariate analysis, adverse prognostic factors related to PFS were: stable disease or PD at first anti-EGFR exposure (HR: 2.12, CI:1.20–3.74; p = 0.009); ReCH (HR: 3.44, CI:1.88–6.29, p < 0.0001); rechallenge at fourth or later lines (HR: 2.51, CI:1.49–4.23, p = 0.001); panitumumab use (HR: 2.26 CI:1.18–5.54, p = 0.017). In the multivariate model, only ReCH remained statistically significant (HR = 2.63, CI: 1.14–6.03, p = 0.022).
Conclusion: In our analysis, ReCH resulted in short PFS and low RR. However, reintroduction of anti-EGFR plus CT before complete resistance arose resulted in prolonged PFS. These data could be clinically useful to guide a treatment break due to side effects or patient decisions. Our data should be confirmed by larger and prospective trials.