Relationships between various uses of antineoplastic drug-interaction terms

Cancer Chemother Pharmacol. 1992;31(2):111-7. doi: 10.1007/BF00685096.


In in vitro testing, no pharmacologic synergism has been found for the combination of cisplatin and etoposide in P388 leukemia in contrast to the demonstration of therapeutic synergism in the same model. No pharmacologic synergism has been found for the same combination in the treatment of four small-cell lung-cancer cell lines, although clinical results obtained using this combination in small-cell lung cancer and other cancers suggest a therapeutic advantage. The popular concept of synergy, implying a therapeutic advantage, is different from the pharmacologic meaning, which generally implies that less drug is required in a combination for an equal effect. Therapeutic advantage may be obtained regardless of whether drugs are synergistic in the pharmacologic sense in the treatment of a tumor. To gain a more comprehensive insight into concepts of drug interaction, it is important to recognize that the type of drug interaction seen is dependent on the drug doses used and may vary with the treatment of different cell lines. All of these factors complicate the use of the word synergism, or any associated term, in a categorical manner to describe the effects of combinations of antineoplastic drugs.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antineoplastic Agents / pharmacology*
  • Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols / therapeutic use
  • Carcinoma, Small Cell / drug therapy
  • Cisplatin / pharmacology
  • Drug Synergism*
  • Etoposide / pharmacology
  • Humans
  • Leukemia P388 / drug therapy
  • Lung Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Terminology as Topic*
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Etoposide
  • Cisplatin