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J Clin Oncol. 2007 May 20;25(15):2086-92.

Phase III study of oral compared with intravenous topotecan as second-line therapy in small-cell lung cancer.

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  • 1Center for Cancer Care and Research, St Louis, MO 63141, USA.

Erratum in

  • J Clin Oncol. 2007 Aug 1;25(22):3387..



Single-agent intravenous (IV) topotecan is an effective treatment for small-cell lung cancer (SCLC) after failure of first-line chemotherapy. This open-label, randomized, phase III study compared oral and IV topotecan in patients with SCLC sensitive to initial chemotherapy.


Patients with limited- or extensive-disease SCLC, documented complete or partial response to first-line therapy, Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group performance status < or = 2, and measurable recurrent disease (WHO criteria) with a treatment-free interval of > or = 90 days were assigned to treatment with either oral topotecan 2.3 mg/m2/d on days 1 through 5 or IV topotecan 1.5 mg/m2/d on days 1 through 5 every 21 days. Primary end point was response rate as confirmed by an external reviewer blinded to treatment.


A total of 309 patients were randomly assigned. In intent-to-treat analysis, response rates were 18.3% with oral topotecan (n = 153) and 21.9% with IV topotecan (n = 151), with a difference (oral -IV) of -3.6% (95% CI, -12.6% to 5.5%). Median survival time was 33.0 weeks for oral and 35.0 weeks for IV topotecan; 1- and 2-year survival rates were 32.6% and 12.4% for oral topotecan, respectively, and 29.2% and 7.1% for IV topotecan, respectively. Third-line chemotherapy was similar for both groups (33% for oral; 35% for IV). Incidence of grade 4 toxicity in patients who received oral and IV topotecan was as follows: neutropenia in 47% and 64%, thrombocytopenia in 29% and 18%, grade 3 or 4 anemia in 23% and 31%, and sepsis in 3% and 3%, respectively. The most frequent nonhematologic adverse events (all grades) included nausea (43% oral; 42% IV), alopecia (26% oral; 30% IV), fatigue (31% oral; 36% IV), and diarrhea (36% oral; 20% IV).


Oral topotecan demonstrates activity and tolerability similar to IV topotecan in chemotherapy-sensitive SCLC patients and offers patients a convenient alternative to IV therapy.

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