10-year update on chemotherapy for non-small cell lung cancer

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BackgroundA 1995 meta analysis of chemotherapy in patients with advanced non-small cell carcinoma indicated clinical benefit from cisplatin based chemotherapy. Subsequent studies have aimed to increase the efficacy or decrease the toxicity of chemotherapy.Patient and methodsIllustrative studies and meta analyses of different aspects of chemotherapy which have taken place over the last decade, are reviewed.ResultsThe use of novel (third generation) chemotherapy agents has resulted in a further increase in patient survival. Gemcitabine was shown to be associated with an increase in progression free survival when compared to other third generation agents as well as a strong tendency to increased overall survival. An increase in survival was also shown with doublet chemotherapy regimes as compared to the use of single agents only. The use of triplet agent chemotherapy results in no further increased survival, but increased toxicity. Cisplatin is associated with increased survival over carboplatin based chemotherapy regimens when third generation agents are used, but increased nausea and vomiting. Non-platin third generation combinations give equivalent survival to platin-based regimens.ConclusionsFirst line chemotherapy given to patients with advanced NSCLC should be two-drug combination regimen. Non-platin containing regimens may be used as an alternative to platinum based regimens in the first line.

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