Paclitaxel combination improves survival from small-cell lung cancer

Combining paclitaxel (Taxol) with two other chemotherapy drugs appears to improve survival in patients with small-cell lung cancer (SCLC) compared with a standard regimen without paclitaxel, according to results from a randomized clinical trial in the August 6 issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

The study found that treatment with paclitaxel, etoposide, and carboplatin yielded better rates of survival and fewer side effects than treatment with carboplatin, etoposide, and vincristine--one standard chemotherapy regimen. Paclitaxel, both alone and in combination with other chemotherapy drugs, has been associated with high response rates in smaller studies of patients with SCLC, the most aggressive form of lung cancer.

Martin Reck, M.D., and Ulrich Gatzemeier, M.D., of the Hospital Grosshansdorf in Hamburg, Germany, and their colleagues conducted a randomized, phase III trial of the two regimens in 614 patients with SCLC. Patients were evaluated for response rate, survival, and toxicities.

Tumor response rates of the two groups were similar. However, patients who received the experimental treatment had a longer median survival time (12.7 months versus 11.7 months) than patients who received standard chemotherapy. The 3-year survival rate of patients in the experimental group was nearly twice that of patients in the standard treatment group (17% versus 9%, respectively). Notably, the improvements in survival were limited to patients with early-stage disease.

Patients in the experimental group also experienced a longer median progression-free survival time (8.1 months versus 7.5 months) than patients in the standard treatment group. For each completed chemotherapy cycle, rates of side effects, such as severe anemia and thrombocytopenia, were lower for patients in the experimental group than patients in the standard treatment group.

"Our results are the first from a randomized trial to demonstrate a st

Contact: Linda Wang
Journal of the National Cancer Institute

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