Oncologist 2018 10 12;23(10):1199-1209. Epub 2018 Apr 12.
Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Washington DC, USA
Central nervous system (CNS) metastases are a common complication in patients with epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR)-mutated non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), resulting in a poor prognosis and limited treatment options. Treatment of CNS metastases requires a multidisciplinary approach, and the optimal treatment options and sequence of therapies are yet to be established. Many systemic therapies have poor efficacy in the CNS due to the challenges of crossing the blood-brain barrier (BBB), creating a major unmet need for the development of agents with good BBB-penetrating biopharmaceutical properties. Although the CNS penetration of first- and second-generation EGFR tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs) is generally low, EGFR-TKI treatment has been shown to delay time to CNS progression in patients with CNS metastases from EGFR-mutated disease. However, a major challenge with EGFR-TKI treatment for patients with NSCLC is the development of acquired resistance, which occurs in most patients treated with a first-line EGFR-TKI. Novel EGFR-TKIs, such as osimertinib, have been specifically designed to address the challenges of acquired resistance and poor BBB permeability and have demonstrated efficacy in the CNS. A rational, iterative drug development process to design agents that could penetrate the BBB could prevent morbidity and mortality associated with CNS disease progression. To ensure a consistent approach to evaluating CNS efficacy, special consideration also needs to be given to clinical trial endpoints.
Implications For Practice: Historically, treatment options for patients who develop central nervous system (CNS) metastases have been limited and associated with poor outcomes. The development of epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs) has improved outcomes for patients with EGFR-mutated disease, and emerging data have demonstrated the ability of these drugs to cross the blood-brain barrier and elicit significant intracranial responses. Recent studies have indicated a role for next-generation EGFR-TKIs, such as osimertinib, in the treatment of CNS metastases. In the context of an evolving treatment paradigm, treatment should be individualized to the patient and requires a multidisciplinary approach.