Background: The prognosis of Stage III unresectable non-small cell lung cancer may be improved by concurrent chemoradiotherapy. In this study, we attempted to evaluate the feasibility, tolerance, efficacy and toxicities of the combination of thoracic radiation and chemotherapy with a novel regimen that included 5-fluorouracil, leucovorin, etoposide and cisplatin (the FLEP regimen) in the treatment of this group of patients.
Patients and methods: From July 1995 to September 1996, 20 untreated patients with locally advanced non-small cell lung cancer were enrolled in the study. Radiation at a dose of 44 Gy was initially delivered in daily fractions of 2 Gy 5 days a week to the tumor and mediastinum, followed by a boost to the tumor (20 to 26 Gy according to patients tolerance). Concurrently with thoracic irradiation, patients were treated with chemotherapy consisting of cisplatin at the dose of 60 mg/m2/d for 1 day, etoposide at the dose of 60 mg/m2/d for 2 days, and 5-FU 500 mg/m2/d plus leucovorin 50 mg/d infusion for 48 hours. Cycles of chemotherapy were repeated every 3 weeks for a maximum of 3 cycles.
Results: Seventeen of 20 patients were assessable. The overall response rate was 70.6% (95% confidence interval = 49-92%). No complete response was achieved. The median response duration for all responding patients is not yet estimable, with a range of 3.5 to 15.5+ months. Eleven patients remain progression-free for 4 to 15 months. The median survival for the entire group is not estimable. The major toxicity was esophagitis. Other grade 3 or 4 toxicities were not frequently observed.
Conclusion: Combined-modality therapy with FLEP regimen and radiation is a promising treatment with a high response rate and acceptable toxicity for locally advanced non-small cell lung cancer.