Randomized phase 2 trial of pemetrexed, pemetrexed/bevacizumab, and pemetrexed/carboplatin/bevacizumab in patients with stage IIIB/IV non-small cell lung cancer and an Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group performance status of 2

Cancer. 2018 May 1;124(9):1982-1991. doi: 10.1002/cncr.30986. Epub 2018 Feb 16.


Background: The best treatment for patients with advanced non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) and a poor performance status is not well defined. In this phase 2 trial, patients were randomized to receive treatment with either single-agent pemetrexed or 1 of 2 combination regimens.

Methods: Patients with newly diagnosed, histologically confirmed nonsquamous NSCLC and an Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group (ECOG) performance status of 2 were stratified by age and serum albumin level and were randomized (1:1:1) to 1 of 3 regimens: pemetrexed (arm 1), pemetrexed and bevacizumab (arm 2), or pemetrexed, carboplatin, and bevacizumab (arm 3). The response to treatment was assessed every 2 cycles; responding and stable patients continued treatment until progression or unacceptable toxicity.

Results: One hundred seventy-two patients were randomized, 162 patients began the study treatment, and 146 patients completed 2 cycles and were evaluated for their response. The median progression-free survival (PFS) was 2.8 months in arm 1, 4.0 months in arm 2, and 4.8 months in arm 3. The overall response rates were 15% in arm 1, 31% in arm 2, and 44% in arm 3. The overall survival was similar in the 3 treatment arms. All 3 regimens were relatively well tolerated. Patients receiving bevacizumab had an increased incidence of hypertension, proteinuria, and bleeding episodes, but most events were mild or moderate.

Conclusions: All 3 regimens were feasible for patients with advanced NSCLC and an ECOG performance status of 2. The addition of bevacizumab to pemetrexed increased the overall response rate. The efficacy of pemetrexed/carboplatin/bevacizumab (median PFS, 4.8 months) approached the prespecified study PFS goal of 5 months. Larger studies will be necessary to define the role of bevacizumab in addition to standard pemetrexed and carboplatin in this population. Cancer 2018;124:1982-91. © 2018 American Cancer Society.

Keywords: bevacizumab; carboplatin; non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC); pemetrexed; randomized phase 2.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial, Phase II
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols / therapeutic use*
  • Bevacizumab / therapeutic use*
  • Carboplatin / therapeutic use*
  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung / diagnosis
  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung / drug therapy*
  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung / pathology
  • Feasibility Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lung Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Lung Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Lung Neoplasms / pathology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pemetrexed / therapeutic use*
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Pemetrexed
  • Bevacizumab
  • Carboplatin