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Dr. Rafael Rosell proves more effective personalized treatments are possible for lung cancer patients harboring specific gene mutations


Groundbreaking EURTAC trial selected for 'Best of ASCO 2011'Barcelona 6 June 2011 – Dr Rafael Rosell’s presentation at the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Annual Meeting of the results from a large-scale trial European trial (EURTAC) proves a more effective alternative to chemotherapy is possible for advanced non-small-cell lung cancer patients with mutations in the epidermal growth factor receptor (EFGR) gene.
The trial, which is the first of its kind in Western patients, was conceived and designed by Dr Rosell in his capacity as President of the Spanish Lung Cancer Group and was carried out in 48 hospitals in Spain, France and Italy operating under the umbrella organizations of the Spanish, French and Italian Lung Cancer Groups. In the EURTAC trial, results of treatment with the oral drug erlotinib were compared against traditional chemotherapy in patients with EGFR mutations. The trial was stopped early as it had already achieved its primary endpoint, to demonstrate that erlotinib (developed by Roche under the brand name Tarceva®) prolongs survival without disease progression in these non-small-cell lung cancer patients bearing the genetic alteratio.The findings from the trial are groundbreaking since, in addition to offering some patients the chance of longer life expectancy, targeted oral treatments such as Tarceva® imply less of the toxicity and side effects traditionally associated with chemotherapy, such as nausea and anemia. It is hoped that findings from the EURTAC trial will encourage wider implementation of EGFR mutation screening by health authorities (some 60% of Spanish patients are currently offered the test, vs. 30% in the U.S.A) and pave the way for changes in clinical practice in the treatment of cancer. Dr. Rosell and the Spanish Lung Cancer Group have successfully proven the need for personalized cancer treatments tailored to the individual patient rather than the standard of treating with chemotherapy across the board, demonstrating the benefits of personalized treatment in terms of tolerability, quality of life and most importantly, life expectancy.
Molecular analyses of the genetic alteration in tumors from 1275 patients were carried out in the molecular biology laboratory of the Hospital Germans Trias i Pujol, Badalona, Spain where Dr Rosell is Head of Medical Oncology at the Catalan Institute of Oncology (ICO).
News of the EURTAC trial results caused generated great interest among the scientific community and the press, with the news picked up and featured on Spanish television and in leading international scientific journals. Dr. Rosell’s presentation has been chosen among the ‘Best of ASCO 2011’ and will be reproduced at related ASCO conferences around the world throughout the rest of the year.
The American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Annual Meeting is the most important date in the oncology calendar and is attended by leading international oncology researchers from a range of cancer fields. This year the conference was held from 3 – 7 June in Chicago, U.S.A.
Related links
Roche official press release (Spanish only)
Full press conference on Diario Médico (Spanish only)
Televisión Española news clip
El Pais (article in Spanish)
El Mundo (article in Spanish)
Diario Médico (article in Spanish)EURTAC trial abstract
American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Official Site
Best of ASCO 2011 meetings