Background: EGFR mutation subtype is a recognised factor impacting outcomes of patients receiving oral tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs) in non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC). Evidence for the effect of this factor on outcomes in patients receiving pemetrexed is limited.
Methods: We completed a study comparing pemetrexed–platinum combination versus oral TKI in EGFR mutation-positive patients in lung cancer. We analysed the impact of EGFR mutation subtype, specifically, exon 19 and 21 on the PFS and OS of patients treated with pemetrexed (500 mg/m2 on day 1) and carboplatin (AUC 5 on day 1) as first-line therapy. Patients underwent axial imaging for response assessment on D42, D84, D126 and subsequently every two months till progression. Patients post-progression were treated with gefitinib.
Results: Fifty-one patients (36%) had exon 21 mutation, while 92 patients (64%) had exon 19 mutation. Response rates in evaluable patients was 47.7% in exon 19 patients (41 patients, n = 86) and 42.9 % in exon 21 patients (18 patients, n = 42). There was a significant increase in median overall survival for patients with exon 19 mutations (24.5 months, 95% CI: 21.3–27.7 months ) over the exon 21-mutated patients (18.1 months, 95% Cl: 13.5–22.6 months, p = 0.002). This differential impact was due to second-line gefitinib having a differential outcome on these mutations.
Conclusion: Pemetrexed-based chemotherapy does not have a differential impact on exon 19- or exon 21-mutated patients. However, second-line treatment with gefitinib has a favourable response and outcome in exon 19-mutated patients.