The treatment regimen consisting of the chemotherapy agents paclitaxel, cisplatin and etoposide and concurrent radiation therapy improves survival for patients with limited small-cell lung cancer, according to a recent article published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Small cell lung cancer (SCLC) accounts for approximately one-quarter of all lung cancers. This cancer differs from other types of lung cancer in that it tends to spread very quickly throughout the body via blood and lymph vessels. Limited SCLC refers to cancer that is present in only one location in the chest. The most common form of treatment for patients with limited SCLC is combination chemotherapy usually consisting of etoposide and cisplatin plus radiation to the chest and sometimes preventive radiation to the head.

Since SCLC is an aggressive cancer, optimal survival is typically achieved following intensive therapy. Therefore, researchers from Norway recently conducted a clinical trial evaluating the efficacy of the addition of paclitaxel to etoposide, cisplatin and concurrent radiation therapy in 39 patients with limited small-cell lung cancer. The overall anti-cancer response rate was 92% and the overall average survival was 21 months. Patient survival was nearly 70% one year following treatment and 37% two years following treatment. Treatment was generally well-tolerated.

These results indicate that this novel treatment regimen is effective and well-tolerated in patients with limited small cell lung cancer, comparing favorably to standard treatment options for patients with this disease. Patients with limited small cell lung cancer may wish to speak with their physician about the risks and benefits of this treatment combination or other promising therapeutic approaches. Two sources of information regarding ongoing clinical trials include comprehensive, easy-to-use listing services provided by the National Cancer Institute (cancer.gov) and eCancerTrials.com. eCancerTrials.com also provides personalized clinical trial searches on behalf of patients. (Journal of Clinical Oncology, Vol 19, No 15, pp 3532-3538, 2001)

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