Gemcitabine and low dose carboplatin in the treatment of elderly patients with advanced non-small cell lung cancer.
Maestu I., Gómez-Aldaraví L., Torregrosa MD., Camps C., Llorca C., Bosch C., Gómez J., Giner V., Oltra A., Albert A.
BACKGROUND:Fifty percent of lung cancers arise in patients over 65 years old and 30% in those over 70. The aim of this study was to evaluate response, survival and tolerability of the combination carboplatin-gemcitabine in elderly patients with advanced non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). METHODS:Between May 1998 and December 2000, 88 patients were included. Median age was 74 (range 65-83). Treatment consisted of gemcitabine 1250 mg/m(2) (1000 mg/m(2) in the first six patients) on days 1 and 8, and carboplatin AUC=4 on day 1, every 21 days. Prognostic factors for survival were analysed. Performance status (PS) and symptoms were evaluated before and after three and six courses. RESULTS:A total of 400 cycles were administered (median of four per patient). WHO grades 3-4 toxicities were: neutropenia in 13% of the cycles, thrombocytopenia and anaemia in 4.5 and 14.7% of patients in any cycle. There was one treatment-related death. According to the intent-to-treat analysis, 33 patients achieved objective response, 33 had stable disease, and 22 had treatment failure (progression in 18 patients). Median and 1 year survival were 9 months and 34%, respectively. Median time to progression was 8 months. Only disease stage and PS showed independent prognostic value. Comorbidity and PS displayed no close correlation. Symptom improvement was seen as follows: pain (61.7%), dyspnea (50%), haemoptysis (80%), anorexia (62.5%) and asthenia (61.5%). CONCLUSIONS:The combination carboplatin-gemcitabine at these doses is feasible in elderly patients with advanced non-small cell lung cancer. Tolerability and toxicity are acceptable. Response rate and survival stand in the range of the most active regimens. Comorbidity and PS showed prognostic independence.