Purpose: This phase II multi-institutional trial of the Southwest Oncology Group was designed to evaluate the efficacy and toxicity of docetaxel in chemotherapy-naive patients with extensive-stage small cell lung cancer.
Patients and methods: Forty-seven patients with extensive-stage small cell lung cancer were entered onto the study. Treatment consisted of docetaxel, 100 mg/m2, as a 1-hour intravenous infusion repeated every 21 days, with protocol-specified dose reductions for toxicity.
Results: Forty-three patients were eligible. A total of 158 cycles of docetaxel were administered (median, three cycles; range, one to nine). Ten patients (23%) (95% confidence interval, 12% to 39%) achieved partial responses. The median progression-free and overall survivals were 3 and 9 months, respectively. Therapy was generally well tolerated. Grade 4 neutropenia occurred in 58% of patients. Febrile neutropenia developed in five patients (12%), and infection was documented in 14% of patients. There was one treatment-related death caused by pneumonia in a patient who had developed bilateral pneumothoraces. Other toxicities (grade 3/4) included malaise, fatigue, and lethargy (21%); nausea (19%); stomatitis (14%); edema (9%); and sensory neuropathy (9%).
Discussion: Docetaxel, at a dose of 100 mg/m2, is an active agent in the treatment of small cell lung cancer. Reversible neutropenia is the most common toxicity associated with this treatment. The overall survival (9 months) with this agent is comparable to that reported with other new chemotherapeutic agents in small cell lung cancer and warrants additional evaluation of docetaxel in combination therapy.