The Journal of Clinical Oncology recently published a study that evaluates the importance of a platinum-based drug in the treatment of non-small cell lung cancer.

Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States and Europe. The most common type of lung cancer, non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), is a malignancy that arises from the tissues of the lung. Under most circumstances, NSCLC is not curable. Current treatments include surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. Chemotherapy with platinum-based drugs, such as cisplatin or carboplatin, is frequently used to treat NSCLC initially; however, these drugs can be difficult to tolerate due to their side effects.

The researchers of this recent study reviewed previous studies regarding the treatment of NSCLC to compare the activity, efficacy, and side effects of platinum-based vs. non-platinum-based chemotherapy. Researchers evaluated a total of 27 randomized trials that included 7,633 patients. They found that one-year survival rates were increased by 5% with platinum-based regimens, although there was no significant improvement in one-year survival when platinum therapy was compared to other combination regimens. Side effect profiles indicated that platinum-based regimens produced higher rates of low blood counts, nausea and vomiting and kidney toxicity; however, neurotoxicity, fevers due to low white blood counts and death rates due to treatment were not significantly increased by platinum-based regimens.

Researchers concluded that response rates are significantly higher with platinum-based therapy; however, one-year survival rates were not significantly impacted by platinum-based treatment. In addition, side effects were generally higher among patients receiving platinum-based regimens.

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Reference: D’Addario G, Pintilie M, Leighl N, et al. Platinum Based Versus Non Platinum Based Chemotherapy in Advanced Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer: A Meta Analysis of the Published Literature. Journal of Clinical Oncology. 2005:23; 2926-2936.

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