According to results recently published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, the chemotherapy agent Taxotere® is effective treatment when used alone in the treatment of advanced non-small cell lung cancer.

Lung cancer remains the leading cause of cancer-related deaths each year in the United States. Non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) is the most common type of lung cancer and refers to the type of cell within the lung in which the cancer originated. Patients with advanced NSCLC have cancer that has spread from the lung to distant and/or several sites in the body. Standard treatment for advanced NSCLC includes chemotherapy, with combinations of different chemotherapy agents typically used. However, with combination chemotherapy, side effects tend to be increased compared to a single-agent regimen. Therefore, researchers continue to evaluate chemotherapy regimens that improve long-term outcomes and quality of life for these patients.

Platinum compounds (cisplatin or carboplatin) are commonly used for the treatment of NSCLC; however, these agents are associated with side effects that may be difficult to tolerate for more frail patients or patients with other medical issues. For this group of patients, physicians may use single-agent regimens to reduce side effects or chemotherapy agents not associated with significant side effects.

Researchers from Greece recently conducted a clinical trial to compare Taxotere® plus cisplatin (Platinol®) to Taxotere® alone in the treatment of advanced NSCLC. This trial included 319 patients with newly diagnosed NSCLC who were treated with either regimen and were directly compared. More patients treated with Taxotere®/cisplatin achieved anti-cancer responses (34.7%) than those treated with Taxotere® alone (21%); however, disease stabilization was nearly equivalent between both groups of patients (21% Taxotere®/cisplatin vs. 23% for Taxotere® alone). Furthermore, overall survival at 1 and 2 years was similar between the two groups of patients, with 1-year survival being 44% for patients treated with Taxotere®/cisplatin and 43% for those treated with Taxotere® alone and 2-year survival being 19% for patients treated with Taxotere®/cisplatin and 15% for those treated with Taxotere® alone. In terms of quality of life, patients treated with Taxotere® alone had significantly less nausea and vomiting, numbness or tingling of hands and feet, fluid retention, low levels of platelets, and kidney abnormalities than patients treated with Taxotere®/cisplatin.

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The researchers concluded that Taxotere® alone provides similar survival at 1 and 2 years as Taxotere®/cisplatin in the treatment of advanced NSCLC, with fewer side effects. Patients with advanced NSCLC may wish to speak with their physician about their individual risks and benefits of receiving treatment with Taxotere® alone or about the participation in a clinical trial evlauating other novel therapeutic approaches. Two sources of information regarding ongoing clinical trials include the National Cancer Institute (cancer.gov) and www.cancerconsultants.com. Personalized clinical trial searches are also performed on behalf of patients at cancerconsultants.com.

Reference: Georgoulias V, Ardavanis A, Agelidou A, et al. Docetaxel Versus Docetaxel Plus Cisplatin as Front-Line Treatment of patients with Advanced Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer: A Randomized, Multicenter Phase III Trial. Journal of Clinical Oncology 2004;22:2602-2609.

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