Purpose: Epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) is a targetable receptor frequently overexpressed in basal-like breast cancer, which comprises most triple-negative breast cancers (TNBCs), the only subtype without established targeted therapy. Patients and Methods: In this randomized phase II trial, patients with metastatic TNBC received anti-EGFR antibody cetuximab (400 mg/m2 load then 250 mg/m2 per week intravenously [IV]) alone, with carboplatin (area under the curve of 2, once per week IV) added after progression or as concomitant therapy from the beginning. Response rate (RR) was the primary end point; others included time to progression (TTP), overall survival (OS), and toxicity. Embedded correlative studies included molecular subtyping on archival tissue. Fresh tumor tissue before and after 7 to 14 days of therapy was used for microarray analyses exploring EGFR pathway activity and inhibition. Results: In 102 patients with TNBC, RRs were 6% (two of 31) to cetuximab and 16% (four of 25) to cetuximab plus carboplatin after progression. RR to those treated from the beginning with cetuximab plus carboplatin was 17% (12 of 71); 31% of patients responded or had prolonged disease stabilization. The cetuximab plus carboplatin regimen was well tolerated, but both TTP and OS were short at 2.1 months (95% CI, 1.8 to 5.5 months) and 10.4 months (95% CI, 7.7 to 13.1 months), respectively. Of 73 patients with archival tissue for analysis, 74% had basal-like molecular subtype. Sixteen patients had tumor biopsies before and 1 week after therapy; genomic patterns of the EGFR pathway showed activation in 13 and inhibition by therapy in five. Conclusion: Despite strong preclinical data, combination cetuximab plus carboplatin in metastatic TNBC produced responses in fewer than 20% of patients. EGFR pathway analysis showed that most TNBCs involved activation. However, cetuximab blocked expression of the EGFR pathway in only a minority, suggesting that most had alternate mechanisms for pathway activation.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cancer Research