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Friday 01 August 2003

Second-line chemotherapy for non-small cell lung cancer.

By: Shepherd FA.

Expert Rev Anticancer Ther 2003 Aug;3(4):435-42

Several agents have been evaluated for the second-line treatment of patients with non-small cell lung cancer. The TAX 317 trial found that patients treated with docetaxel (Taxotere) 75 mg/m2 had significantly longer survival than those treated with best supportive care alone. In addition, symptom control was better for patients who received chemotherapy. The TAX 320 trial found that treatment with docetaxel 75 or 100 mg/m2 resulted in significantly higher response rates than treatment with vinorelbine (Navelbine) or ifosfamide (Mitoxana), and the 1-year survival rate was also significantly better for patients treated with docetaxel 75 mg/m2. A large randomized trial compared pemetrexed (LY-231514 or Alimta) 500 mg/m2 with docetaxel 75 mg/m2. Response and survival rates were similar in the two treatment arms, however, the toxicity profile of pemetrexed was superior to that of docetaxel with significantly less Grade 3/4 neutropenia and febrile neutropenia. Fewer patients in the pemetrexed arm required hospitalization. Topotecan (Hycamtin) 2.3 mg/m2/day orally for 5 days has been compared with docetaxel 75 mg/m2 in a large 800-patient study. The results of this trial are awaited. Gemcitabine (Gemzar) and irinotecan (Campto) have been evaluated both as single agents and in combination with each other and study results do not suggest that either of these drugs is superior to docetaxel or pemetrexed. The vinca alkaloid vinorelbine has proved to be inferior to docetaxel in a randomized trial. The epidermal growth factor receptor inhibitors gefitinib (ZD1839, Iressa) and erlotinib (CP-358774, OSI 774, Tarceva) have been evaluated in Phase II trials in the second- and third-line setting. Both drugs have demonstrated interesting response rates ranging from 10 to almost 20%. The results of placebo-controlled randomized trials of this family of drugs are awaited. In summary, several studies have now found a definite role for the second-line treatment of patients with non-small cell lung cancer.

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