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Cancer Chemother Pharmacol. 2016 Aug;78(2):233-44. doi: 10.1007/s00280-016-3032-8. Epub 2016 Apr 18.

The Best. First. Anti-EGFR before anti-VEGF, in the first-line treatment of RAS wild-type metastatic colorectal cancer: from bench to bedside.

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Medical Oncology Dept, Fondazione Poliambulanza, Via Bissolati 57, 25124, Brescia, Italy.
Medical Oncology Unit, Tor Vergata University Hospital, Rome, Italy.



Since 2013, informative trials exploring the optimal use of available biologic agents in the first-line setting of metastatic colorectal cancer (mCRC) have been presented. These trials have opened a stimulating debate on the biological effect that first-line therapies may have on subsequent lines of treatment even long after the first-line progression.


We reviewed available preclinical and clinical data on the effect of different sequences of the biological drugs approved for use in mCRC patients. The importance of molecular selection of patients based on RAS mutational status and toxicity and quality-of-life issues were also analyzed.


Convincing evidence exists on the optimal therapeutic effect obtained by using anti-EGFR agents in first-line treatment before anti-VEGF agents. On the contrary, up-front anti-VEGF agents' use seems to determine biological changes that increase the risk of acquired resistance to subsequent EGFR inhibitors. This hypothesis is confirmed by the scarce evidence of EGFR inhibitor activity in second-line treatment. Such a therapeutic optimum is subject to a fine molecular selection based on RAS mutational status.


There is accumulating evidence suggesting that, after precise and well-established molecular selection, anti-EGFR agents deliver their maximum efficacy in mCRC patients when given early in the treatment strategy. Their toxicity profile seems manageable under the supervision of experienced physicians. Large randomized trials prospectively confirming the impact of different sequencing strategies are eagerly awaited.


Anti-EGFR therapy; Bevacizumab; Cetuximab; Colon cancer; Panitumumab; Sequential treatment

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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