Phase III trial comparing a defined duration of therapy versus continuous therapy followed by second-line therapy in advanced-stage IIIB/IV non-small-cell lung cancer.
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To compare four cycles of therapy versus continuous therapy to determine the optimal duration of chemotherapy in advanced non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC).Stage IIIB/IV NSCLC patients were randomized to arm A (four cycles of carboplatin at an area under the curve of 6 and paclitaxel 200 mg/m(2) every 21 days) or arm B (continuous treatment with carboplatin/paclitaxel until progression). At progression, all patients on both arms were to receive second-line weekly paclitaxel at 80 mg/m(2)/wk. The primary end points were survival and quality of life (QOL).Two hundred thirty patients were randomized. Fifty-seven percent of arm A patients completed four courses of therapy. In the 116 arm B patients, the median number of cycles delivered was four (range, zero to 19 cycles). Forty-two percent received five or more cycles; 18% received eight or more cycles. Overall response rates were 22% and 24% for arms A and B, respectively (P =.80). Median survival time and 1-year survival rates were 6.6 months and 28% for arm A and 8.5 months and 34% for arm B, respectively (log-rank P =.63). Rates of hematologic and nonhematologic toxicity were similar between the two arms, except for neuropathy. The rate of grade 2 to 4 neuropathy increased from 19.9% (95% confidence interval [CI], 13.6% to 26.2%) at cycle 4 to 43% (95% CI, 28.6% to 57.4%) at cycle 8. There were no differences in QOL. Only 45% of patients received second-line therapy (42% in arm A v 47% in arm B, P =.42).This study shows no overall benefit in survival, response rates, or QOL to continuing treatment with carboplatin/paclitaxel beyond four cycles in advanced NSCLC.