Purpose: This study was designed to assess the efficacy of gemcitabine plus vinorelbine using the mouse Lewis lung carcinoma model and to translate this regimen to a phase I clinical study of these two agents in patients with advanced lung cancer.
Materials and methods: Using the mouse Lewis lung cancer model, employing growth delay and isobologram analysis, we demonstrated that gemcitabine, in combination with vinorelbine, produced additive activity with little increased toxicity over a wide range of doses. At the highest dose level studied, antagonism was observed. Based on these results, we initiated a phase IGemcitabine and vinorelbine in patients with advanced lung cancer: preclinical studies and report of a phase I trial study of this combination at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute (DFCI) in patients with untreated or once pretreated non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC) or once pretreated small-cell lung cancer (SCLC). Vinorelbine (given in an intravenous bolus) and gemcitabine (given in a 30-min infusion) were initially administered to patients at a dose of 15 mg/m2 and 500 mg/m2, respectively, on days 1, 8, and 15 of a 28-day cycle. Seven dose levels were subsequently explored over the course of the study. There was no intrapatient dose escalation.
Results: From November 1996 to March 1998, 40 patients were enrolled: 32 had NSCLC, 5 had SCLC and 3 had mixed disease (both SCLC and NSCLC). The patients were evenly divided by gender, the median age was 58 years (range 38 to 73 years), and the median ECOG performance status was 1 (range 0 to 2). All patients had normal renal and hepatic function and none had previously received gemcitabine or vinorelbine. Toxic reactions included mild to moderate fatigue, nausea, constipation, and, most significantly, neutropenia and thrombocytopenia. Phlebitis was a major problem when central venous lines were not used with 15% grade 1/2 events. The day-15 dose was held in 43% of patients at the expanded dose. No true maximum tolerated dose was reached after completion of seven dose levels. Dose level 4 (22.5 mg/m2 vinorelbine and 1,000 mg/m2 gemcitabine) was chosen for expansion and future study due to the potential increased ability of patients to receive the full doses on time.
Conclusions: We conclude that this drug combination and dosage are feasible and have potential as either a front- or second-line chemotherapeutic regimen for advanced lung cancer, and phase II/III trials should be performed. However, hematologic toxicities, as found in this study, could probably be reduced with treatment on days 1 and 8 every 21 days, and current literature would suggest this to be the preferred schedule.