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14-06-2016 | Esophageal cancer | Article

Second- and third-line systemic therapy in patients with advanced esophagogastric cancer: a systematic review of the literature

Cancer and Metastasis Reviews

Authors: Emil ter Veer, Nadia Haj Mohammad, Gert van Valkenhoef, Lok Lam Ngai, Rosa M. A. Mali, Martijn G. H. van Oijen, Hanneke W. M. van Laarhoven

Publisher: Springer US


The optimal second- and third-line chemotherapy and targeted therapy for patients with advanced esophagogastric cancer is still a matter of debate. Therefore, a literature search was carried out in Medline, EMBASE, CENTRAL, and oncology conferences until January 2016 for randomized controlled trials that compared second- or third-line therapy. We included 28 studies with 4810 patients. Second-line, single-agent taxane/irinotecan showed increased survival compared to best supportive care (BSC) (hazard ratio 0.65, 95 % confidence interval 0.53–0.79). Median survival gain ranged from 1.4 to 2.7 months among individual studies. Taxane- and irinotecan-based regimens showed equal survival benefit. Doublet chemotherapy taxane/irinotecan plus platinum and fluoropyrimidine was not different in survival, but showed increased toxicity vs. taxane/irinotecan monotherapy. Compared to BSC, second-line ramucirumab and second- or third-line everolimus and regorafenib showed limited median survival gain ranging from 1.1 to 1.4 months, and progression-free survival gain, ranging from 0.3 to 1.6 months. Third- or later-line apatinib showed increased survival benefit over BSC (HR 0.50, 0.32–0.79). Median survival gain ranged from 1.8 to 2.3 months. Compared to taxane-alone, survival was superior for second-line ramucirumab plus taxane (HR 0.81, 0.68–0.96), and olaparib plus taxane (HR 0.56, 0.35–0.87), with median survival gains of 2.2 and 4.8 months respectively. Targeted agents, either in monotherapy or combined with chemotherapy showed increased toxicity compared to BSC and chemotherapy-alone. This review indicates that, given the survival benefit in a phase III study setting, ramucirumab plus taxane is the preferred second-line treatment. Taxane or irinotecan monotherapy are alternatives, although the absolute survival benefit was limited. In third-line setting, apatinib monotherapy is preferred.

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