Duration of therapy in advanced, metastatic non-small-cell lung cancer.

Mark A. Socinski, Maria Q. Baggstrom, Thomas A. Hensing

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Advanced, metastatic non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC) remains a challenge to oncologists. There is little doubt that platinum-based combination chemotherapy improves survival and has a palliative effect by improved patients' symptoms and quality of life. Yet chemotherapy is not curative, is associated with toxicity, and can be costly. In most recent phase III trials, the median survival time is 8 to 10 months. Therefore, the optimal duration of therapy-one that balances survival and palliative effects against toxicity, cost, and intrusiveness on patients' lives-remains an important issue. Three recent randomized trials that addressed this in stage IIIB/IV NSCLC are reviewed. Two evaluated brief durations of first-line therapy (3 cycles in one, 4 in the other) versus longer-duration therapy (6 cycles and continuous therapy, respectively). No benefit in response rate, symptom relief, quality of life, or survival was noted for the longer-duration therapy. In addition, cumulative toxicities occurred more frequently in patients who received longer treatment durations. The third trial administered 4 cycles of first-line platinum-based therapy and then randomized responding patients to observation or 6 months of further therapy with vinorelbine. No survival benefit was noted for vinorelbine. There trials suggest that duration of first-line therapy in advanced, metastatic NSCLC should be brief (3 to 4 cycles). Prolonged therapy does not appear to improve survival and carries the risk of cumulative toxicity. Second-line therapy considered in those patients fit enough to receive it at the time of disease progression.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)33-38
Number of pages6
JournalClinical advances in hematology & oncology : H&O
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2003


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