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Oncology (Williston Park). 1999 Aug;13(8):1075-88; discussion 1088, 1091-4.

Chemoradiation for locally advanced, unresectable NSCLC. New standard of care, emerging strategies.

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Section of Hematology/Oncology, University of Chicago School of Medicine, Illinois, USA.


The optimal therapy for locally advanced, unresectable, stage III non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC) continues to evolve. The critical determinants of overall survival include local tumor control and the eradication of subclinical micrometastatic disease. Historically, standard radiation therapy resulted in a median survival of 7 to 10 months. In a randomized trial, the Cancer and Leukemia Group B (CALGB) established the superiority of induction cisplatin (Platinol) and vinblastine chemotherapy followed by radiation therapy. Additional studies revealed that induction chemotherapy improved survival rates by decreasing metastatic disease progression. Three independent meta-analyses confirmed the survival benefit afforded by cisplatin-based induction chemotherapy followed by radiotherapy, and helped to establish this as the new standard of care. Other investigators have demonstrated improvements in local tumor control and survival with either concurrent chemoradiotherapy or hyperfractionated radiotherapy. Most recently, attention has focused on radiation dose intensity and the utilization of newer, highly active chemotherapeutic agents with concurrent or sequential radiation therapy. These newer drugs, including paclitaxel (Taxol), docetaxel (Taxotere), gemcitabine (Gemzar), vinorelbine (Navelbine), and irinotecan (Camptosar), enhance radiation cytotoxicity and, when administered in systemically active dosages, may also control micrometastatic disease. Phase I and II studies of novel chemoradiation regimens continue to demonstrate encouraging results, and several large randomized clinical trials are currently enrolling patients.

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