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Can EGFR-TKIs be used in first line treatment for advanced non-small cell lung cancer based on selection according to clinical factors ? -- A literature-based meta-analysis

Chongrui Xu, Qing Zhou and Yi-long Wu*

Author Affiliations

Guangdong Lung Cancer Institute, Guangdong General Hospital & Guangdong Academy of Medical Science, 106 Zhongshan Er Road, Guangzhou, 510080, Guangdong, P.R. China

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Journal of Hematology & Oncology 2012, 5:62  doi:10.1186/1756-8722-5-62

Published: 10 October 2012



In the first line treatment of non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), several clinical trials have shown that not all NSCLC patients can benefit from treatment with tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs) than receiving chemotherapy. Some trials treated patients with TKI according to their clinical characteristics. A few studies only chose patients with an epidermal grouth factor receptor (EGFR) mutation for TKI therapy. We aimed to determine whether patients could be treated with TKIs based on clinical factors in the first-line setting.


We performed a meta-analysis of randomized trials involving patients with advanced NSCLC treated with chemotherapy or TKIs by different selections. Efficacy outcomes of interest were the objective response rate (ORR), progression-free survival (PFS) and the overall survival (OS) of each treatment arm.


Four trials enrolled unselected patients, and two trials selected East Asian patients using the clinical factors of gender and smoking history. Five trials chose patients with an EGFR mutation who were randomized for treatment with TKI or chemotherapy. For unselected patients, the risk ratio (RR) of the ORR was 3.52, the hazard ratio (HR) of the PFS was 1.29 and the HR of the OS was 1.35. For the clinically selected patients, the RR of the ORR was 0.64. The HRs of the PFS and OS were 0.83 and 0.92, respectively. The ORR and PFS were better for TKIs than for chemotherapy in patients with an EGFR mutation. The ORR was 0.47, and the HRs of the PFS and OS were 0.36 and 1.00, respectively.


Advanced NSCLC patients with an EGFR mutation benefit most from TKIs. EGFR-TKI treatment is justified for patients with unknown EGFR status,and those who cannot tolerate chemotherapy owing to age, poor performance status (PS) or other medical conditions, when selected according to clinical factors in the first-line setting.

Non-small cell lung cancer; Target therapy; Chemotherapy; Meta-analysis