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Lung Cancer. 1994 Sep;11(3-4):259-74.

Treatment-related deaths in small cell lung cancer trials: can patients at risk be identified? Medical Research Council Lung Cancer Working Party.

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Medical Research Council Cancer Trials Office, Cambridge, UK.



This paper investigates the problem of treatment-related deaths in small cell lung cancer (SCLC).


To observe and define increased hazard levels, and to identify factors relating to these excess deaths.


The United Kingdom.


A total of 2196 patients entered into the series of six randomised clinical trials in SCLC conducted by the Medical Research Council (MRC) Lung Cancer Working Party (LCWP).


In this large series of patients an increased risk of death in the second week after commencing the first cycle of chemotherapy was observed, suggesting that of the 10% of patients who died within 3 weeks of starting chemotherapy, half may have been treatment-related. Much less additional risk was associated with subsequent cycles of chemotherapy, and no additional risk with either initial surgery or radiotherapy. Radford et al. [Eur J Cancer 1993; 29A: 81-86] suggested that the risk factors for death from sepsis were a Karnofsky Performance (KP) score of < or = 50 (translated as a WHO performance grade (PS) > or = 3), age > 50 years and three or more drugs in the chemotherapy regimen utilised. Starting with this model we found that our data suggest it can be refined by omitting age and including a white blood cell count > or = 10,000/mm3 (this variable was not tested by Radford), and changing the other categories to WHO PS > or = 2 (KP < or = 70), and four or more drugs. Within our data this revised model identified a high risk group of patients with an excess death rate of more than 15% in the second week after starting chemotherapy. Radford et als' suggestion that high risk patients be given half doses of drugs at the first cycle should be tested in a randomised clinical trial.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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