Cisplatin versus carboplatin in NSCLC: is there one "best" answer?

Curr Treat Options Oncol. 2008 Dec;9(4-6):326-42. doi: 10.1007/s11864-009-0085-5. Epub 2009 Feb 19.


Platinum-based chemotherapeutic doublets have produced significant survival benefits for patients with non-small cell lung cancer of all disease stages. The optimal combination of chemotherapy has been the subject of much investigation, and the ideal platinum agent the subject of ongoing and heated debate. For patients with resected disease, all evidence of survival advantage rests with cisplatin, and the only clinical trial to evaluate carboplatin-based therapy failed to show a survival benefit. In the setting of locally advanced lung cancer, no comparative data exist, and even randomized phase III trials are largely lacking. Cisplatin-based doublets provide the most consistent evidence of superior survival when coupled with definitive thoracic radiation. Meta-analyses of palliative chemotherapy indicate consistent survival advantages with cisplatin-based therapy over carboplatin; however, the relative advantage is small. Cisplatin carries a higher toxicity profile, including nausea, vomiting, neuropathy, renal insufficiency, and alopecia in comparison to carboplatin. When the goal of therapy is curative, the survival benefits with cisplatin are in most circumstances worth the increased toxicities. When the goal of therapy is palliation, the relative price of toxicity needs to be weighed on the basis of the individual patient in an effort to maximize quality of life.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antineoplastic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Carboplatin / therapeutic use*
  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung / drug therapy*
  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung / mortality
  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung / pathology
  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung / surgery
  • Cisplatin / therapeutic use*
  • Humans
  • Lung Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Lung Neoplasms / mortality
  • Lung Neoplasms / pathology
  • Lung Neoplasms / surgery
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Survival Rate
  • Survivors
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Carboplatin
  • Cisplatin