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Open Access Study protocol

Treatment of non-small cell lung cancer with intensity-modulated radiation therapy in combination with cetuximab: the NEAR protocol (NCT00115518)

AD Jensen13, MW Münter13, H Bischoff4, R Haselmann1, C Timke1, R Krempien1, F Sterzing1, S Nill2, S Heeger6, A Hoess2, U Haberkorn5, PE Huber3, M Steins4, M Thomas4, J Debus1 and KK Herfarth13*

Author Affiliations

1 Dept. of Radiation Oncology, Clinical Radiology, University of Heidelberg Medical School, INF 400, 69120 Heidelberg, Germany

2 Dept. of Medical Physics, German Cancer Research Centre (DKFZ), INF 280, 69120 Heidelberg, Germany

3 Clinical Co-operation Unit Radiation Oncology, German Cancer Research Centre (DKFZ), INF 280, 69120 Heidelberg, Germany

4 Dept. of Medical Oncology, Thoraxklinik Heidelberg, Amalienstr. 5, 69126 Heidelberg, Germany

5 Dept. of Nuclear Medicine, University of Heidelberg Medical School, INF 400, 69120 Heidelberg, Germany

6 Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany

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BMC Cancer 2006, 6:122  doi:10.1186/1471-2407-6-122

Published: 8 May 2006

Abstract

Background

Even today, treatment of Stage III NSCLC still poses a serious challenge. So far, surgical resection is the treatment of choice. Patients whose tumour is not resectable or who are unfit to undergo surgery are usually referred to a combined radio-chemotherapy. However, combined radio-chemotherapeutic treatment is also associated with sometimes marked side effects but has been shown to be more efficient than radiation therapy alone.

Nevertheless, there is a significant subset of patients whose overall condition does not permit administration of chemotherapy in a combined-modality treatment.

It could be demonstrated though, that NSCLCs often exhibit over-expression of EGF-receptors hence providing an excellent target for the monoclonal EGFR-antagonist cetuximab (Erbitux®) which has already been shown to be effective in colorectal as well as head-and-neck tumours with comparatively mild side-effects.

Methods/design

The NEAR trial is a prospective phase II feasibility study combining a monoclonal EGF-receptor antibody with loco-regional irradiation in patients with stage III NSCLC. This trial aims at testing the combination's efficacy and rate of development of distant metastases with an accrual of 30 patients.

Patients receive weekly infusions of cetuximab (Erbitux®) plus loco-regional radiation therapy as intensity-modulated radiation therapy. After conclusion of radiation treatment patients continue to receive weekly cetuximab for 13 more cycles.

Discussion

The primary objective of the NEAR trial is to evaluate toxicities and feasibility of the combined treatment with cetuximab (Erbitux®) and IMRT loco-regional irradiation.

Secondary objectives are remission rates, 3-year-survival and local/systemic progression-free survival.