April 1st 2005
The majority of patients with ovarian cancer, especially those whopresent with stages IIIC and IV, will relapse soon after completion ofplatinum-based induction treatment. It is imperative to find ways to improveand/or enhance the efficacy of induction and to prolong the durationof the first remission. The epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR)family has been exploited, and currently, three agents that directly targetthis group of receptors are in use in the treatment of colorectal,non–small-cell lung and breast cancers. EGFR and HER2/neu areoverexpressed in a significant percentage of epithelial ovarian cancers.Thus, it would be reasonable to explore directly targeted therapyin ovarian cancer. Numerous investigational trials involving a varietyof EGFR inhibitors in ovarian cancer are ongoing. Our institution hasan active phase II clinical study that seeks to define the role of erlotinib(Tarceva) in potentiating first-line chemotherapy, and to determinewhether the drug offers a significant contribution as maintenancetherapy. It is hoped that data from these and other studies will helpinvestigators to understand more clearly the biology of ovarian cancerand to delineate the role of EGFR inhibitors in the management ofovarian cancer.