Objective: Most patients with stage III non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) are not candidates for surgery but can benefit from chemotherapy combined with radiation therapy. The objective of the present study was to analyze the results of sequential chemotherapy and radiation therapy and the prognostic value of initial clinical and laboratory variables.
Patients and methods: We carried out a retrospective study of 92 patients with stage III NSCLC treated with a sequential regimen of chemotherapy (carboplatin-etoposide, carboplatin-gemcitabine, and carboplatin-paclitaxel), and radiation therapy (6000 cGy in daily doses of 200 cGy, 5 d/wk). Response to therapy, overall survival, and the prognostic value of epidemiological, clinical, and laboratory variables were evaluated using univariate and multivariate analyses.
Results: Median survival time was 14 months, with a 3-year survival rate of 16.1%. Poor performance status (score of 2 on the Eastern Cooperative Oncologic Group [ECOG] scale), anemia, and elevated serum concentrations of carcinoembryonic antigen were predictive of poorer survival in the multivariate analysis. In the univariate analysis, weight loss and diagnosis before the year 2000 were also associated with poorer prognosis (P<.01). TNM stage was not significantly correlated (P=.08). Toxicity was low, with 1 death and few cases of grade 3 or 4 toxicity according to World Health Organization criteria.
Conclusions: The use of chemotherapy combined with radiation therapy should be considered contraindicated in cases of poor performance status (ECOG scale score of 2). Weight loss, an elevated serum concentration of carcinoembryonic antigen, and a hemoglobin concentration of 12 g/dL or less carry a poor prognosis.