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Cancer. 1994 Aug 15;74(4):1243-52.

Phase II study of neoadjuvant chemotherapy and radiation therapy with thoracotomy in the treatment of clinically staged IIIA non-small cell lung cancer.

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Department of Medicine, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, NC 27710.



The purpose of this study was to assess the ability of administering to patients induction chemotherapy with carboplatin and etoposide (VP-16), followed by full-course radiation therapy and weekly carboplatin with tolerable toxicity as preoperative therapy to down-stage disease thus allowing the resection of clinically staged IIIA non-small cell lung cancer.


Twenty-eight eligible patients with good performance status and previously untreated, marginally resectable stage IIIA non-small cell lung cancer received induction chemotherapy with carboplatin (dosed per the Egorin formulation), and VP-16 (100 mg/m2) followed by 6000 cGy of chest radiotherapy over six weeks administered concurrently with weekly doses of 100 mg/m2 of carboplatin. Patients who had either responsive or stable disease underwent thoracotomy, with attempted surgical resection of the primary lung lesion and the areas of abnormal adenopathy. Procedures involving less than a pneumonectomy were used whenever feasible.


Fifty-two cycles of induction chemotherapy were administered. The average initial dose of carboplatin was 407 mg/m2. Toxicity was tolerable with grade 3-4 neutropenia and/or thrombocytopenia in 48 and 27% of the patients. There were no septic deaths. Full-dose radiotherapy was administered to 82% of patients, with 73% receiving at least five weekly doses of carboplatin. The radiographically assessed response rate to the neoadjuvant treatment was 64% (partial response, 46%; minimal response, 18%). Sixteen patients underwent gross tumor resection with 12 (43%) having negative pathologic margins. Six patients had pneumonectomy. There were three perioperative deaths (19%); two were secondary to respiratory failure after the patients underwent a pneumonectomy. The median survival for all 28 patients was 15 months, and for the 16 patients undergoing thoracotomy was 23 months. Eight patients were alive and in remission, with follow-up ranging from 8 to 31 months.


The authors conclude that (1) carboplatin and VP-16, followed by full-dose radiotherapy with weekly carboplatin administration, is a well tolerated and effective regimen in the treatment of patients with marginally resectable stage IIIA non-small cell lung cancer; and (2) full-course radiotherapy can be administered before surgical resection without additional surgical morbidity or mortality.

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