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Cancer. 2003 Jun 1;97(11):2791-7.

Gemcitabine combined with carboplatin in patients with malignant pleural mesothelioma: a multicentric phase II study.

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  • 1Department of Medical Oncology, University Hospital, Padova, Italy.



Malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM) is increasing rapidly worldwide. Currently, pemetrexed plus cisplatin chemotherapy showed a survival advantage versus cisplatin alone. No impact on patient survival of surgery, radiotherapy, or their combination has been demonstrated.


Eight centers in northeastern Italy participated in a Phase II multicenter study. Chemotherapy was comprised of carboplatin area under the concentration-time curve 5 on Day 1 and gemcitabine 1000 mg/m(2) on Days 1, 8, and 15. This cycle was repeated every 4 weeks.


Between July 1996 and September 2000, 50 patients were treated. Of the sample, 68% were males, 88% had a Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group performance status score of 0-1, 56% had Stage I-II disease, 68% had epithelioid histology, and 62% had no previous treatments. The delivered dose intensity of gemcitabine was 617 mg/m(2) per week, which was 82% of the planned dose (750 mg/m(2) per week). For carboplatin, the delivered dose intensity was 80 mg/m(2) per week. Overall, 44% of 15th day doses were omitted or reduced. Twenty-six percent of the patients had partial responses (95% confidence interval: 15-40%) and 24% had disease progression. None of the patients had complete responses. The median response duration was 55 weeks (range, 13-113 weeks). Patients had good clinical benefit. For example, 46% had improved dyspnea, 40% improved in weight, and 26% experienced pain reduction. Patients developed Grade 3-4 leukopenia during 18 cycles (11%) of chemotherapy. Grade 3-4 thrombocytopenia occurred more frequently, i.e., there were 24 episodes (15%) among 17 patients. Grade 3 anemia developed among patients during eight cycles (5%). None of the patients developed Grade 3-4 nonhematologic toxicity. The median survival of this sample of patients was 66 weeks with 53%, 30%, and 20% of patients alive at 1, 2, and 3 years, respectively. The median progression-free survival period was 40 weeks.


The gemcitabine/carboplatin combination is a valid option in the treatment of MPM due to its acceptable toxicity profile, the good response rate, and the clinical benefit to patients. Minor adjustments in schedule (3-week cycles instead of 4-week cycles) would permit a more optimal treatment administration.

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