Purpose: To evaluate the efficacy and safety of gemcitabine and carboplatin in the treatment of previously untreated patients with advanced non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC).
Methods: A randomized phase II study was conducted by the Groupe Français de Pneumo-Cancérologie (GFPC) in 15 centers. The patients were randomized in either arm A (GC): gemcitabine 1250 mg/m2 on days 1 and 8+carboplatin AUC 6 mg/(mLmin) on day 1; or in arm B (VP): vinorelbine 30 mg/m2 weekly+cisplatin 80 mg/m2 on day 1. Treatment cycles were repeated every 3 weeks.
Results: A total of 100 patients were randomized with stage IV or stage III NSCLC with malignant pleural effusion: 51 patients in arm A and 49 patients in arm B. A total of 190 cycles were administered in the GC arm and 172 cycles in the VP arm, with a median of four cycles per patient in each arm. The dose intensity was 84.9% for gemcitabine, 99.8% for carboplatin, 97.7% for cisplatin and 67.7% for vinorelbine. The objective response rates were 19.6% (95% CI, 9.8-33.1) for GC and 29.2% (95% CI, 17.0-44.1) for VP in an ITT analysis. The response duration was 169 days in arm A and 226 days in arm B. The TTP was similar with 140 days (GC) and 148 days (VP), respectively. Overall survival rates were 334 days in the GC combination and 304 days in the VP combination. Overall, the treatment was safe and toxicities observed were different in each arm: neutropenia was the most common toxicity in the VP treatment, whereas thrombocytopenia was more frequent in the GC combination. Anemia was similar in both arms. Non-haematologic toxicity was mild. One toxic death in arm A and three toxic deaths in arm B were observed.
Conclusion: In terms of response rate, the gemcitabine-carboplatin combination was not efficient enough to allow further phase III study. Survival data are in the same range as the standard arm. This chemotherapy is feasible and may represent an alternative to a standard cisplatin-based regimen, allowing treatment in an outpatient setting.