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Monday 01 December 2003

Emerging role of weekly topotecan in recurrent small cell lung cancer.

By: Eckardt JR.

Oncologist 2004;9 Suppl 6:25-32

Small cell lung cancer (SCLC) is an aggressive tumor that often metastasizes before the primary cancer is diagnosed. Patients with SCLC are typically elderly and often have comorbidities that may predispose them to adverse events during therapy. Although topotecan (Hycamtin; GlaxoSmithKline; Philadelphia, PA), 1.5 mg/m(2)/day via a 30-minute i.v. infusion on days 1-5 of a 21-day cycle, is a standard therapy for relapsed SCLC, this regimen can result in significant neutropenia, especially in previously treated patients. This hematologic toxicity is noncumulative and reversible, but its management can be challenging in this poor-prognosis population. Therefore, alternate treatment regimens have been investigated. Weekly topotecan (4.0 mg/m(2)) is currently investigational and has shown promising activity and favorable tolerability in patients with relapsed ovarian cancer, another aggressive malignancy with a poor prognosis. Preliminary results from a phase II trial of weekly bolus topotecan (4.0 mg/m(2)) in patients with recurrent SCLC were recently reported, and this regimen was generally well tolerated. Furthermore, weekly topotecan has been successfully included in several combination therapy regimens in patients with a variety of solid tumors. In untreated SCLC patients, a combination regimen of weekly topotecan, paclitaxel (Taxol; Bristol-Myers Squibb; Princeton, NJ), and cisplatin (Platinol; Bristol-Myers Squibb) was explored and found to be well tolerated and active in patients with extensive and limited-stage disease. Further clinical trials of weekly topotecan and regimens that include weekly topotecan in the SCLC setting are warranted.

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