High-intensity chemotherapy does not improve survival in small cell lung cancer

Apr 08, 2008

Small cell lung cancer (SCLC) patients treated with high-dose chemotherapy did not have better survival rates than those treated with standard doses, according to a randomized controlled trial published online April 8 in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

SCLC accounts for nearly 13 percent of lung cancer cases in the United States. Although many patients with SCLC initially respond to chemotherapy, most suffer disease recurrence relatively quickly. Laboratory data suggest that increasing the dose of chemotherapy agents kills SCLC cells that were resistant to standard doses, and thus might improve patient survival.

To test this possibility, Serge Leyvraz, M.D., of the University Hospital in Lausanne, Switzerland, and colleagues enrolled 140 patients with SCLC in a randomized trial that compared high-dose and standard-dose chemotherapy. Both groups were treated with the same chemotherapy agents, ifosfamide, carboplatin, and etoposide (ICE).

The 3-year survival rates in the two arms were similar, with 18 percent of patients in the high-dose arm and 19 percent of patients in the standard-dose arm still alive. Additionally, a similar fraction of patients in both arms showed tumor shrinkage in response to therapy—78 percent in the high-dose arm and 68 percent in the standard-dose arm, which was not a statistically significant difference.

"The approach explored in the present trial succeeded in raising the peak dose, total dose, and dose intensity of ICE by threefold but has clearly been ineffective and highly toxic," the authors write. "As a result, this strategy should be abandoned."

In an accompanying editorial, Paul A. Bunn Jr., M.D., agrees with that assessment and emphasizes that other avenues of therapy should now be explored. "The declining incidence of SCLC and the lack of progress seem to have dampened the enthusiasm of funding agencies and industry for exploring novel therapies. This is indeed unfortunate because SCLC remains a common cancer in both the developed and developing world," Bunn writes.

Source: Journal of the National Cancer Institute

Explore further: Team identifies source of most cases of invasive bladder cancer

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Advances in lung cancer research announced at conference

Aug 07, 2009

Dr. Glen Weiss of the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) and Scottsdale Healthcare this week announced two significant advances in treating lung cancer at an international cancer research conference.

Recommended for you

Cancer stem cells linked to drug resistance

5 hours ago

Most drugs used to treat lung, breast and pancreatic cancers also promote drug-resistance and ultimately spur tumor growth. Researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine have discovered ...

Unraveling the 'black ribbon' around lung cancer

Apr 17, 2014

It's not uncommon these days to find a colored ribbon representing a disease. A pink ribbon is well known to signify breast cancer. But what color ribbon does one think of with lung cancer?

User comments : 0

More news stories

Less-schooled whites lose longevity, study finds

Barbara Gentry slowly shifts her heavy frame out of a chair and uses a walker to move the dozen feet to a chair not far from the pool table at the Buford Senior Center. Her hair is white and a cough sometimes interrupts her ...

How to keep your fitness goals on track

(HealthDay)—The New Year's resolutions many made to get fit have stalled by now. And one expert thinks that's because many people set their goals too high.

Low tolerance for pain? The reason may be in your genes

Researchers may have identified key genes linked to why some people have a higher tolerance for pain than others, according to a study released today that will be presented at the American Academy of Neurology's 66th Annual ...

Growing app industry has developers racing to keep up

Smartphone application developers say they are challenged by the glut of apps as well as the need to update their software to keep up with evolving phone technology, making creative pricing strategies essential to finding ...

Making graphene in your kitchen

Graphene has been touted as a wonder material—the world's thinnest substance, but super-strong. Now scientists say it is so easy to make you could produce some in your kitchen.