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ESMO World GI Congress 2018: Trifluridine/Tipiracil Effective in Patients with Heavily Pretreated Metastatic Gastric Cancer

TAGS study shows two-month improvement in median overall survival
26 Jun 2018
Gastrointestinal cancers;  Anticancer agents & Biologic therapy

Phase III study of trifluridine/tipiracil plus best supportive care (BSC) vs. placebo plus BSC conducted in patients with metastatic gastric cancer who received at least two prior regimens of chemotherapy show the survival benefits and that trifluridine/tipiracil is effective treatment option in such heavily pretreated population. The results of the TAGS study (LBA-002), were presented at the 20th anniversary ESMO World Congress on Gastrointestinal Cancer (20-23 June 2018, Barcelona, Spain). 

Trifluridine/tipiracil is an orally administered combination agent, currently approved for treatment of patients with refractory metastatic colorectal cancer. Trifluridine/tipiracil demonstrated promising clinical activity in a Japanese phase II trial in patients with refractory gastric cancer. These results prompted TAGS investigators to initiate the NCT02500043 study that evaluated the efficacy and safety of trifluridine/tipiracil in heavily pretreated metastatic gastric cancer. 

The TAGS is a global phase III study that enrolled patients ≥18 years of age with histologically confirmed, non-resectable metastatic gastric cancer, including cancer of the gastro-oesophageal junction. It was required that patients have a good performance status (PS) according to Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group (ECOG). The patients have received at least two prior regimens of chemotherapy, including fluoropyrimidines, platinum and a taxane- and/or irinotecan-containing regimen. 

Patients were randomised 2:1 to receive trifluridine/tipiracil (35 mg/m2 twice daily on days 1–5 and 8–12 of each 28-day cycle) plus BSC, or placebo plus BSC. Patients were stratified by region (Japan versus rest of world), ECOG PS (0 versus 1) and prior treatment with ramucirumab. 

Between February 2016 and January 2018, the study team randomly assigned 507 patients to receive trifluridine/tipiracil (n = 337) or placebo (n = 170). Baseline patient and disease characteristics were balanced across treatment groups, with all patients receiving platinum and either irinotecan and/or taxanes, and all but one receiving fluoropyrimidine. 

At the data cut-off of 31 March 2018, a median overall survival (OS) was 5.7 months in the trifluridine/tipiracil group and 3.6 months in the placebo group, hazard ratio (HR) 0.69; 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.56, 0.85; one-sided p = 0.0003. Twelve-month OS rates were 21.2% in the trifluridine/tipiracil group and 13.0% in the placebo group. 

Median progression-free survival (PFS) was 2.0 months in the trifluridine/tipiracil group and 1.8 months in the placebo group (HR 0.57; 95% CI 0.47, 0.70; two-sided p < 0.0001). Four- and 6-month PFS rates were 26.8% and 14.6% in the trifluridine/tipiracil group versus 7.7% and 6.4% in the placebo group, respectively. 

Grade 3 or higher adverse events occurred in 79.4% (266 of 335) patients who received trifluridine/tipiracil and 57.7% (97 of 168) patients who received placebo. Grade 3/4 haematological side effects experienced by patients treated with trifluridine/tipiracil were neutropenia (38.1%), leucopenia (21.0%), anaemia (18.6%) and lymphocytopenia (18.9%). Of the 38.1% of patients treated with trifluridine/tipiracil who experienced grade 3/4 neutropenia, 1.8% experienced febrile neutropenia (grade 3 or higher). No new safety signals were observed. 

The study team concluded that the survival benefits, in particular, 31% reduction in risk of death that associated with a 2.1-month improvement in median OS demonstrated that trifluridine/tipiracil is an effective treatment option for patients with heavily pretreated metastatic gastric cancer. 


Tabernero J, Shitara K, Dvorkin M, et al. Overall survival results from a phase III trial of trifluridine/tipiracil versus placebo in patients with metastatic gastric cancer refractory to standard therapies (TAGS)Annals of Oncology 2018; Volume 29, Issue suppl_5. mdy208.001, https://doi.org/10.1093/annonc/mdy208.001

Last update: 26 Jun 2018

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