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JOURNAL ARTICLE
MULTICENTER STUDY
RANDOMIZED CONTROLLED TRIAL

Maintenance strategies after first-line oxaliplatin plus fluoropyrimidine plus bevacizumab for patients with metastatic colorectal cancer (AIO 0207): a randomised, non-inferiority, open-label, phase 3 trial

Susanna Hegewisch-Becker, Ullrich Graeven, Christian A Lerchenmüller, Birgitta Killing, Reinhard Depenbusch, Claus-Christoph Steffens, Salah-Eddin Al-Batran, Thoralf Lange, Georg Dietrich, Jan Stoehlmacher, Andrea Tannapfel, Anke Reinacher-Schick, Julia Quidde, Tanja Trarbach, Axel Hinke, Hans-Joachim Schmoll, Dirk Arnold
Lancet Oncology 2015, 16 (13): 1355-69
26361971

BACKGROUND: The definition of a best maintenance strategy following combination chemotherapy plus bevacizumab in metastatic colorectal cancer is unclear. We investigated whether no continuation of therapy or bevacizumab alone are non-inferior to fluoropyrimidine plus bevacizumab, following induction treatment with a fluoropyrimidine plus oxaliplatin plus bevacizumab.

METHODS: In this open-label, non-inferiority, randomised phase 3 trial, we included patients aged 18 years or older with histologically confirmed, previously untreated metastatic colorectal cancer, Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group (ECOG) performance status of 0-2, adequate bone marrow, liver, and renal function, no pre-existing neuropathy greater than grade 1, and measurable disease, from 55 hospitals and 51 private practices in Germany. After 24 weeks of induction therapy with either fluorouracil plus leucovorin plus oxaliplatin or capecitabine plus oxaliplatin, both with bevacizumab, patients without disease progression were randomly assigned centrally by fax (1:1:1) to standard maintenance treatment with a fluoropyrimidine plus bevacizumab, bevacizumab alone, or no treatment. Both patients and investigators were aware of treatment assignment. Stratification criteria were response status, termination of oxaliplatin, previous adjuvant treatment with oxaliplatin, and ECOG performance status. At first progression, re-induction with all drugs of the induction treatment was a planned part of the protocol. Time to failure of strategy was the primary endpoint, defined as time from randomisation to second progression after maintenance (and if applicable re-induction), death, or initiation of further treatment including a new drug. Time to failure of strategy was equivalent to time to first progression for patients who did not receive re-induction (for any reason). The boundary for assessment of non-inferiority was upper limit of the one-sided 98·8% CI 1·43. Analyses were done by intention to treat. The study has completed recruitment, but follow-up of participants is ongoing. The trial is registered with ClinicalTrials.gov, number NCT00973609.

FINDINGS: Between Sept 17, 2009, and Feb 21, 2013, 837 patients were enrolled and 472 randomised; 158 were randomly assigned to receive fluoropyrimidine plus bevacizumab, 156 to receive bevacizumab monotherapy, and 158 to receive no treatment. Median follow-up from randomisation is 17·0 months (IQR 9·5-25·4). Median time to failure of strategy was 6·9 months (95% CI 6·1-8·5) for the fluoropyrimidine plus bevacizumab group, 6·1 months (5·3-7·4) for the bevacizumab alone group, and 6·4 months (4·8-7·6) for the no treatment group. Bevacizumab alone was non-inferior to standard fluoropyrimidine plus bevacizumab (hazard ratio [HR] 1·08 [95% CI 0·85-1·37]; p=0·53; upper limit of the one-sided 99·8% CI 1·42), whereas no treatment was not (HR 1·26 [0·99-1·60]; p=0·056; upper limit of the one-sided 99·8% CI 1·65). The protocol-defined re-induction after first progression was rarely done (30 [19%] patients in the fluoropyrimidine plus bevacizumab group, 67 [43%] in the bevacizumab monotherapy group, and 73 [46%] in the no treatment group. The most common grade 3 adverse event was sensory neuropathy (21 [13%] of 158 patients in the fluoropyrimidine plus bevacizumab group, 22 [14%] of 156 patients in the bevacizumab alone group, and 12 [8%] of 158 patients in the no treatment group).

INTERPRETATION: Although non-inferiority for bevacizumab alone was demonstrated for the primary endpoint, maintenance treatment with a fluoropyrimidine plus bevacizumab may be the preferable option for patients following an induction treatment with a fluoropyrimidine, oxaliplatin, and bevacizumab, as it allows the planned discontinuation of the initial combination without compromising time with controlled disease. Only a few patients were exposed to re-induction treatment, thus deeming the primary endpoint time to failure of strategy non-informative and clinically irrelevant. Progression-free survival and overall survival should be considered primary endpoints in future trials exploring maintenance strategies.

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