Among patients with metastatic colorectal cancer treated with the targeted therapy Vectibix® (panitumumab), preventive skin care reduces the occurrence of skin side effects. These results were published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.
Colorectal cancer remains the second leading cause of cancer-related death in the United States. Metastatic colorectal cancer refers to cancer that has spread from the colon to distant sites in the body.
Targeted therapies are anticancer drugs that interfere with specific pathways involved in cancer cell growth or survival. Some targeted therapies block growth signals from reaching cancer cells; others reduce the blood supply to cancer cells; and still others stimulate the immune system to recognize and attack the cancer cell. Depending on the specific “target,” targeted therapies may slow cancer cell growth or increase cancer cell death.
Vectibix inhibits cancer cell growth and survival by targeting a protein known as the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR). Vectibix has been approved for the treatment of EGFR-expressing, metastatic colorectal cancer that has progressed on or following fluoropyrimidine-, oxaliplatin-, and irinotecan-containing chemotherapy regimens. Vectibix appears to benefit only those patients whose cancers do not contain a mutation in a gene known as KRAS. KRAS mutations occur in an estimated 40-50% of metastatic colorectal cancers and can be identified by testing a sample of tumor tissue.
Skin side effects are common among patients treated with EGFR-inhibiting drugs such as Vectibix. These side effects may include rash, dryness, and itching. Although generally not life-threatening, these side effects can affect quality of life.
To evaluate whether preventive skin care measures can reduce the occurrence of skin side effects, researchers conducted a Phase II clinical trial among 95 patients with metastatic colorectal cancer treated with Vectibix.
Half the study participants received preventive skin care, and half received skin care only after skin side effects developed. Preventive skin care included use of skin moisturizers, sunscreen, topical steroid, and doxycycline.
These results suggest that preventive skin care can reduce the occurrence of skin side effects from drugs such as Vectibix.
Reference: Lacouture ME, Mitchell EP, Piperdi B et al. Skin toxicity evaluation protocol with panitumumab (STEPP), a phase II, open-label, randomized trial evaluating the impact of a pre-emptive skin treatment regimen on skin toxicities and quality of life in patients with metastatic colorectal cancer. Journal of Clinical Oncology [early online publication]. February 8, 2010.