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Sequential Chemotherapy Helpful in Advanced Lung Cancer

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NEW YORK MAR 29, 2007 (Reuters Health) - In the absence of new therapies, sequential cisplatin-based treatment appears to be a useful option in patients with advanced non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), according to Italian researchers.

"While waiting for a tailored, more rational approach to lung cancer treatment," lead researcher Dr. Anna Ceribelli told Reuters Health, "we believe that empirical strategies using chemotherapeutic drugs are still a reasonable alternative for patients with advanced NSCLC."

In this context, she added, "the sequential regimen evaluated in our paper, with cisplatin and gemcitabine followed by weekly docetaxel as first-line treatment appears to have a favorable cost-benefit ratio in terms of extremely manageable toxicity and activity."

In the February 15th issue of Cancer, Dr. Ceribelli of the Regina Elena National Cancer Institute, Rome, and colleagues note that they adopted this approach in 52 patients with stage IIIb/IV disease.

Patients were given cisplatin on day 1 and gemcitabine on days 1 and 8 every 3 weeks for three cycles. Those without progression went on to receive docetaxel every week for 6 of 8 weeks for two cycles.

The overall response rate was 36.5%, the median overall survival was 11 months and the median progression-free survival was 6 months. Survival at 1 year was 48%, and at 2 years it was 25%. Corresponding progression-free survival rates were 12% and 9%.

"Both phases of the treatment were well tolerated," the researchers report.

Given the tolerability, especially in regard to cumulative neurotoxicity, and the favorable response, concluded Dr. Ceribelli, the approach "could be considered for further evaluation."

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