Current research is exploring whether there is a benefit to either continuing a treatment drug for longer than the usual 4-6 cycles (referred to as “continuation maintenance”) or switching to a new drug to be given for a longer period of time after the first treatment cycles have been completed (referred to as “switch maintenance”). Several drugs have been approved for use or are commonly used as maintenance therapy, however oncologists do not fully agree on whether maintenance is always the best option.
Erlotinib (Tarceva) is a targeted therapy, approved by for maintenance in locally advanced or metastatic NSCLC for patients whose disease did not progress after four cycles of platinum-based therapy.
Pemetrexed (Alimta) is a chemotherapy that is approved for maintenance in non-squamous NSCLC for patients whose disease did not progress after four cycles of platinum-based therapy.
Bevacizumab (Avastin) is a targeted therapy that has not been approved for maintenance but is often used as continuation maintenance after being combined with chemotherapy drugs for initial treatment.