Introduction: This study compared survival without toxicity in patients with advanced, nonsquamous non-small cell lung cancer who were treated with first-line pemetrexed/carboplatin or docetaxel/carboplatin.
Methods: This multicenter, open-label, parallel-group, phase 3 trial comprised patients randomized (1:1) to pemetrexed/carboplatin (n = 128) or docetaxel/carboplatin (n = 132). Patients received treatment on day 1 of each 21-day cycle (maximum of six cycles). Treatment included carboplatin (area under the curve = 5 mg/ml × min) and pemetrexed (500 mg/m(2)) or docetaxel (75 mg/m(2)). The primary outcome measure, survival without treatment-emergent grade 3/4 toxicity, was defined as the time from randomization to the first treatment-emergent grade 3/4 adverse event or death and was analyzed using a log-rank test. The analysis population included 106 patients in the pemetrexed/carboplatin (Pem/Carb) group and 105 patients in the docetaxel/carboplatin (Doc/Carb) group.
Results: Survival without treatment-emergent grade 3/4 toxicity was significantly longer in the Pem/Carb versus the Doc/Carb group (log-rank p < 0.001; median survival without treatment-emergent grade 3/4 toxicity: 3.2 versus 0.7 months; adjusted hazard ratio = 0.45 [95% confidence interval: 0.34-0.61]). Overall survival was similar in the Pem/Carb versus the Doc/Carb group (log-rank p = 0.934; median survival: 14.9 versus 14.7 months; adjusted hazard ratio = 0.93 [95% confidence interval: 0.66-1.32]). Compared with the Doc/Carb group, fewer patients in the Pem/Carb group experienced grade 3/4 drug-related, treatment-emergent neutropenia, leukopenia, or febrile neutropenia, and more patients experienced anemia and thrombocytopenia. There were three study drug-related deaths during treatment in each group.
Conclusions: The favorable benefit-to-risk profile of pemetrexed/carboplatin suggests that pemetrexed/carboplatin is an appropriate first-line treatment option for chemonaïve patients with advanced, nonsquamous non-small cell lung cancer.