Medline: 8664131

British Journal of Cancer 73(12): 1563-1568, 1996.

A randomised trial of low-dose/high-frequency chemotherapy as palliative treatment of poor-prognosis small-cell lung cancer: a Cancer Research Campaign trial.

James LE, Gower NH, Rudd RM, et al.


We report the results of a randomised trial in extensive small-cell lung cancer (SCLC) of a novel approach to palliative chemotherapy. A widely used 3 weekly regimen was compared with the same drugs given at half the dose but twice the frequency with the same intended overall dose intensity (DI). A total of 167 patients defined as having extensive SCLC with adverse prognostic features were randomised to receive either a 3 weekly regimen of cisplatin 60 mg m-2 i.v. on day 1 and etoposide 120 mg m-2 i.v. on day 1 and 100 mg b.d. orally on days 2 and 3 alternating with cyclophosphamide 600 mg m-2 i.v., doxorubicin 50 mg m-2 i.v. and vincristine 2 mg i.v. all on day 1 for a maximum of six courses (3 weekly); or treatment with the same drugs but with each course consisting of half the 3 weekly dose given every 10 or 11 days for a maximum of 12 courses. In the 10/11 day regimen overall response rate was 58.9% (95% CI, 47.9-69.2%) with 12.8% complete responses (CR). For the 3 weekly treatment the overall response rate was 44.9% (95% CI, 35.0-55.5%) with 10.1% CR. Median survival was similar in the two arms at 6.4 months (95% CI, 4.9-7.3 months) and 5.8 months (95% CI, 4.0-6.6 months) respectively. Survival at 1 year was 9.9% (95% CI, 5.0-18.5%) and 8.9% (95% CI, 4.6-16.6%). The 95% CI for the difference in survival at 1 year is -7.09% to +9.09%. Haematological toxicity and treatment delays owing to infection were more frequent with the 10/11 day regimen but other toxicities were equal in both arms. Other aspects of quality of life were measured in a small representative cohort of patients using a daily diary card (DDC). There was a trend of improved quality of life on the 10/11 day arm, but there was little difference between the two treatments. The trial shows that a low-dose/high-frequency regimen with the same DI as conventionally scheduled chemotherapy gives similar response rates and survival. This and other modifications of the schedule may offer new approaches to palliative treatment of advanced cancer. However, in this trial there was no significant benefit in toxicity or other aspects of quality of life.

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