According to an article recently published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, additional use of Taxol® (paclitaxel) following chemotherapy plus radiation therapy does not improve outcomes for patients with Stage III non–small cell lung cancer who are at a high risk for developing a cancer recurrence.

Lung cancer remains the leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States. Non–small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) is the most common type of lung cancer, comprising approximately 75–85% of all lung cancers. Stage III NSCLC refers to cancer that has spread from the lung to different areas within the chest, but has not spread outside the chest.

Standard treatment for Stage III NSCLC may include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and/or targeted therapy. Because long-term survival for patients with Stage III NSCLC is suboptimal, researchers continue to evaluate ways to improve outcomes, as well as quality of life, for patients with this disease.

Consolidation therapy is given following initial treatment. The goal of consolidation therapy is to reduce the risk of a cancer recurrence following initial therapy.

Researchers affiliated with the Southwest Oncology Group (SWOG) recently conducted a clinical trial to evaluate consolidation therapy with Taxol following treatment with Paraplatin® (carboplatin) and etoposide (VePesid®) plus radiation therapy in patients with Stage III NSCLC. This trial included 87 patients who had a poor prognosis. Patients without cancer progression following Paraplatin/VePesid/radiation therapy went on to receive consolidation Taxol. Results from this trial were compared to results of another SWOG trial that evaluated the same treatment regimen without consolidation Taxol in patients with the same disease.

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  • 54 patients received consolidation Taxol.
  • Median progression-free survival was 6.1 months.
  • Survival rates at one and two years were 43% and 25%, respectively.
  • Compared with the previous SWOG trial, the addition of consolidation Taxol did not improve survival, but did increase side effects for patients.

The researchers concluded that consolidation Taxol following chemotherapy plus radiation therapy does not appear to improve survival for patients with Stage III NSCLC who have a poor prognosis. The authors stated that “the optimal chemoradiotherapy approach for poor-risk patients remains to be defined.”

Patients with Stage III NSCLC may wish to speak with their physician regarding their individual risks and benefits of participating in a clinical trial evaluating novel therapeutic options. Two sources of information regarding ongoing clinical trials include the National Cancer Institute (www.cancer.gov) and www.eCancertrials.com.

Reference: Lau D, Chansky K, Davis A, et al. Phase II Study of Consolidation Paclitaxel After Concurrent Chemoradiation in Poor-Risk Stage III Non–Small Cell Lung Cancer: SWOG S9712. Journal of Clinical Oncology. 2006;24:5242-5246.

Related News:Risk of Second Cancers After Chemotherapy and Radiation Therapy for Stage III Non–Small Cell Lung Cancer (11/28/2006)

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