First line chemotherapy in advanced or metastatic NSCLC

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The lung cancer global incidence has regularly increased during the last decades. Non Small Cell Lung Cancer (NSCLC) accounts for approximately 80% of all lung tumors. Different schedules including cisplatin plus gemcitabine or vinorelbine or paclitaxel or docetaxel or irinotecan showed advantages in terms of response rate, toxicity and quality of life, but little improvement in terms of survival. Some advantage was documented in favour of the combination including cisplatin plus a new drug versus monochemotherapy with new drugs. The large phase III studies performed with doublets containing new drugs and platinum are not free of criticism but in summary the research involving more than 3000 patients failed to indicate a standard regimen. With the aim of strengthen the phase III studies results, a meta-analysis tested the survival outcomes of published randomized trials, analysing the effects of the combination of gemcitabine and platinum compounds versus any platinum-based regimens. Gemcitabine-platinum combinations appear to offer a statistically significant superior efficacy in terms of overall survival and progression free survival as compared to other platinum-based regimens. Considering the palliative role of chemotherapy in advanced NSCLC and in order to reduce toxicity, not cisplatin-containing regimens were investigated. The results support the suggestion from the last ASCO guidelines: first-line chemotherapy of advanced NSCLC should be a two-drug combination regimen and not platin-based chemotherapy may be used as alternative to platinum-based regimens. The new frontier is represented by pharmacogenomic. The potential benefits of the pharmacogenomic approach lay in the possibility of predicting the patient chemotherapy response developing customized chemotherapeutic combinations and limiting severe side effects.

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