Circulating Tumor Cell Enumeration in a Phase II Trial of a Four-Drug Regimen in Advanced Colorectal Cancer

Matthew G Krebs, Andrew G Renehan, Alison Backen, Simon Gollins, Ian Chau, Jurjees Hasan, Juan W Valle, Karen Morris, Janette Beech, Linda Ashcroft, Mark P Saunders, Caroline Dive

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BACKGROUND: Multidrug regimens are active against advanced colorectal cancer (ACRC). However, the increased toxicity requires the use of biomarkers to select the patients who will derive the most benefit. We assessed circulating tumor cells (CTCs) as a prognostic biomarker in patients treated with a 4-drug regimen. PATIENTS AND METHODS: A single-arm phase II trial (Erbitux Study of CPT11, Oxaliplatin, UFToral Targeted-therapy [eSCOUT]) was undertaken in patients with previously untreated KRAS wild-type ACRC using a regimen of irinotecan, oxaliplatin, and tegafur-uracil with leucovorin and cetuximab. Baseline CTCs were enumerated using CellSearch. The endpoints were an objective response rate (ORR) and overall survival (OS). We modeled our results and compared them with those modeled for the capecitabine, oxaliplatin, bevacizumab +/- cetuximab (CAIRO2) trial, stratifying patients a priori into low (<3) and high (≥ 3) CTC groups. RESULTS: For 48 eligible patients, the best ORR from the 4-drug regimen was 71%, with a disease control rate of 98%. The median OS for patients with a high and low CTC count was 18.7 and 22.3 months (log-rank test, P = .038), respectively. In our modeled data, for patients with a low CTC count, no differences were found between the median OS in the eSCOUT trial and that in the CAIRO2 trial (22.2 vs. 22.0 months). However, for the high CTC group, a clinically relevant improvement was seen in median OS (eSCOUT vs. CAIRO2, 18.7 vs. 13.7 months; P = .001). CONCLUSION: These data are hypothesis generating-for patients with ACRC, stratification by CTC count can identify those who might benefit the most from an intensive 4-drug regimen, avoiding high-toxicity regimens in low CTC groups. This hypothesis warrants validation in a phase III biomarker-driven trial.
Original languageEnglish
JournalClinical Colorectal Cancer
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2015


  • Biomarker
  • CellSearch
  • Cetuximab
  • Circulating tumor cells
  • Colorectal cancer

Research Beacons, Institutes and Platforms

  • Manchester Cancer Research Centre


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