Medline: 8260367

British Journal of Cancer 68(6): 1150-1156, 1993.

A randomised trial of three or six courses of etoposide cyclophosphamide methotrexate and vincristine or six courses of etoposide and ifosfamide in small cell lung cancer (SCLC) I: survival and prognostic factors. Medical Research Council Lung Cancer Working Party.

Bleehan NM, Girling DJ, Machin D, et al


A total of 458 eligible patients, from 21 centres, with histologically or cytologically confirmed SCLC were allocated at random to three chemotherapy regimens, each given at 3-week intervals. In two regimens, etoposide, cyclophosphamide, methotrexate and vincristine were given for a total of either three courses (ECMV3) or six courses (ECMV6). In the third regimen, etoposide and ifosfamide were given for six courses (EI6). Patients with limited disease (56% of the total) also received radiotherapy to the primary site after the third course of chemotherapy in all three groups. A partial response occurred in 45% of 144 ECMV3 patients, 48% of 141 ECMV6, and 53% of 141 EI6 patients assessed, and a complete response in a further 15%, 9%, and 13% respectively, giving total response rates of 60%, 57%, and 67%, respectively. There was no overall survival advantage to any of the three regimens. At 1 year, 24%, 29%, and 30% of patients were alive, and at 2 years 7%, 8%, and 9%, respectively. The median survival time was 7.4 months in the ECMV3 group, 8.6 months in the ECMV6 group and 8.8 months in the EI6 group. The individual factors: poor performance status, extensive disease, the presence of dysphagia and a raised white blood cell count on admission adversely affected prognosis. The results do not exclude the possibility of a minor survival advantage with the two 6-course regimens. The findings on quality of life are presented in the companion paper (MRC Lung Cancer Working Party, 1993b).

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