NASHVILLE, TennesseeIrinotecan (Camptosar)/cisplatin (Platinol)
combination therapy was significantly more effective and less toxic than
standard etoposide (VePesid)/cisplatin in phase II trials, according to Alan B.
Sandler, MD. The combination is now being tested in larger clinical studies.
These confirmatory studies will use a 21-day cycle of irinotecan/cisplatin
rather than the 28-day cycle used in preliminary studies.
Although small-cell lung cancer (SCLC) is typically quite chemosensitive,
most patients relapse and 90% die within 2 years of relapse. "Early
metastatic involvement is common, and 60% to 70% of patients present with
extensive essentially incurable disease," Dr. Sandler said. He is
associate professor of medicine and medical director of thoracic oncology at
Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee.
Current Outcomes Dismal
Etoposide has been considered the most active single agent, and most widely
used combinations are etoposide based. Dr. Sandler said that outcomes with
current standard regimens are dismal, with median overall survival of only 6 to
11 months and 2-year survival of 10% to 20% in patients with extensive disease.
"Prior to 2000, phase III trials in extensive SCLC showed no convincing
data that any one regimen was superior," Dr. Sandler said. "Although
somewhat longer median survival occurred with etoposide, ifosfamide (Ifex), and
cisplatin (VIP), it has not become the standard of care because of the
A number of new agents have significant single-agent activity in either
first-line or second-line use. Dr. Sandler said that work with irinotecan has
been carried forward in combination therapy, mostly in Japan. Kudoh and
coworkers reported data on a phase II study of weekly irinotecan plus cisplatin
as first-line therapy for patients with either limited or extensive SCLC.