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Cancer Invest. 2005;23(6):511-9.

A phase I trial defining the maximum tolerated systemic exposure of topotecan in combination with Carboplatin and Etoposide in extensive stage small cell lung cancer.

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  • 1The Multidisciplinary Thoracic Oncology Program, Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA.



Topotecan is active in relapsed small cell lung cancer; thus, its addition to the standard carboplatin-etoposide regimen may improve outcomes in extensive-stage small cell lung cancer (ES-SCLC) patients. Significant interpatient variability in the topotecan systemic exposure results when it is dosed based on body surface area (mg/m2). The purpose of this Phase I trial was to determine the maximally tolerated systemic exposure (MTSE) of topotecan in combination with carboplatin and etoposide.


Thirty-four chemotherapy-naïve ES-SCLC patients received topotecan in combination with carboplatin AUC 5 mg/mL*min and oral etoposide 100 mg/m2/day. Topotecan was administered as a 30-minute infusion either on Days 1-5 or Days 1-3 and the dosage was individualized to attain a topotecan lactone AUC range (ng/mL*hr) in successive patient cohorts from 7 to 23; 24 to 36; 37 to 53; 54 to 66.


The majority (67 percent) of the measured topotecan AUCs were within target range. Overall, 8 of 34 patients experienced Cycle 1 dose-limiting toxicity (DLT), either neutropenia or thrombocytopenia. Carboplatin administration prior to topotecan resulted in 2 of 6 patients having Cycle 1 DLT. When the administration sequence was changed (topotecan, carboplatin, etoposide), Cycle 1 hematologic toxicity decreased; however, the maximum topotecan lactone AUC of 24-36 ng/mL*hr (median dose 0.82 mg/m2) had significant cumulative hematologic toxicity. The number of topotecan doses were reduced from 5 to 3, which resulted in a maximum topotecan lactone AUC of 37 to 53 ng/mL*hr with only 1 of 6 patients having Cycle 1 DLT. Overall response rate was 71 percent with median survival of 10.8 months.


It is feasible to target topotecan lactone AUC in adult ES-SCLC patients. However, this triplet regimen resulted in considerable hematologic toxicity and has a median survival comparable to carboplatin-etoposide. Alternative, less toxic regimens should be investigated for improving survival in ES-SCLC.

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