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Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2008 Oct 8;(4):CD006849. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD006849.pub2.

Platinum versus non-platinum chemotherapy regimens for small cell lung cancer.

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School of Medicine, Faculty of Health Science, University of Tasmania, 43 Collins Street, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia, 2005.



Small cell lung cancer (SCLC) is a very fast growing form of cancer and is characterised by early metastasis. As a result, chemotherapy is the mainstay of treatment. A number of different platinum-based chemotherapy regimens and non-platinum-based chemotherapy regimens have been used for the treatment of SCLC, with varying results. This review was conducted to analyse the data from these trials in order to compare their effectiveness.


To determine the effectiveness of platinum chemotherapy regimens compared with non-platinum chemotherapy regimens in the treatment of SCLC with respect to survival, tumour response, toxicity and quality of life.


We searched the biomedical literature databases CENTRAL (The Cochrane Library 2007, Issue 2), MEDLINE, EMBASE and CINAHL from 1966 to April 2007. In addition, we handsearched reference lists from relevant resources.


All randomised controlled trials involving patients with pathologically confirmed (cytological or histological) SCLC and the use of a platinum-based chemotherapy regimen in at least one treatment arm and a non-platinum-based chemotherapy regimen in a separate arm.


Two authors independently assessed search results. We assessed included studies for methodological quality and recorded the following outcome data: survival, tumour response, toxicity and quality of life. We combined the results of the survival, tumour response and toxicity data in a meta-analysis.


A total of 29 trials involving 5530 patients were included in this systematic review. There was no statistically significant difference between treatment groups in terms of survival at 6 months, 12 months and 24 months. There was also no statistically significant difference in terms of overall tumour response. However, platinum-based treatment regimens did have a significantly higher rate of complete response. Platinum-based chemotherapy regimens had significantly higher rates of nausea and vomiting, anaemia and thrombocytopenia toxicity. Three trials presented quality of life data but the data presented were not complete and therefore could not be combined in a meta-analysis.


Platinum-based chemotherapy regimens did not offer a statistically significant benefit in survival or overall tumour response compared with non-platinum-based regimens. However, platinum-based chemotherapy regimens did increase complete response rates, at the cost of higher adverse events including nausea and vomiting, anaemia and thrombocytopenia toxicity. These data suggest non-platinum chemotherapy regimens have a more advantageous risk-benefit profile. This systematic review highlights the lack of quality of life data in trials involving chemotherapy treatment for SCLC. With poor long-term survival associated with both treatment groups, the issue of the quality of the survival period takes on even more significance. It would be beneficial for future trials in this area to include a quality of life assessment.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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