Platinum-based chemotherapy is the standard of care for patients with locally advanced or metastatic non small cell lung cancer. Patients with advanced or metastatic non small cell lung cancer who have failed platinum-based chemotherapy can be treated with other regimens. However, the side effects of further treatment could offset any benefits.

Physicians in Canada and Europe carried out a randomized clinical trial to determine if the administration of the chemotherapy agent docetaxel was more effective than supportive care alone in patients with non small cell lung cancer who had failed treatment with platinum-based chemotherapy. One hundred patients were randomized to receive 1 of 2 dose levels of docetaxel and 96 were randomized to receive supportive care. At 1 year, the survival of patients receiving docetaxel was 40% compared to 16% for patients receiving supportive care. Patients receiving docetaxel also had a better quality of life with improvement in pain control and fatigue than patients receiving only supportive care. There were more patients with low blood counts among those receiving docetaxel, but no differences in other side effects.

Docetaxel improved survival and decreased cancer-related symptoms in patients with non small cell lung cancer who had failed platinum-based first-line chemotherapy. (Proceedings of American Society of Clinical Oncology, Vol 18, Abstract 1784, 1999)

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