Purpose: Temozolomide, a novel triazene derivative, has shown activity in vitro against lung cancer as well as against brain metastases from a variety of solid tumors including non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). The aim of the study was to evaluate the efficacy and safety of temozolomide in pretreated patients with NSCLC.
Patients and methods: Thirty-one pretreated patients (median age 60 years) with histologically confirmed NSCLC were enrolled. Sixteen (52%) patients had a performance status (ECOG) of 0-1, 12 (39%) had pretreated brain metastases and 28 (90.3%) had received >2 lines of treatment. Temozolomide was administered at a dose of 75 mg/m(2) daily for 21 days every 28 days. A total of 73 chemotherapy cycles were administered.
Results: In an intention-to-treat analysis, 2 patients (6.5%; 95% CI: -2.2 to 15.1%) achieved a partial response and 3 (10%) stable disease. The median time to progression was 2.4 months, the median survival time 3.3 months and the 1-year survival rate 22.5%. There was a toxic death due to grade 4 neutropenia. Grade 3 and 4 lymphopenia occurred in 4 (13%) and 2 (6%) patients, respectively. Nonhematological toxicity was mild, consisting of grade 2-3 asthenia (n = 14 patients) and grade 3 diarrhea (n = 1 patient).
Conclusion: Prolonged low daily doses of temozolomide demonstrate minimal activity as salvage therapy in patients with advanced NSCLC. The combination of low daily doses of temozolomide with other anticancer drugs probably merits further evaluation.