Send to

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Cancer Prev Control. 1997;1(1):18-27.

Chemotherapy in stage IV (metastatic) non-small-cell lung cancer. Provincial Lung Disease Site Group.

Author information

University of Ottawa, Ont.



In patients with metastatic, stage IV non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC) does chemotherapy improve survival and quality of life?


To make recommendations about the role of chemotherapy in the treatment of metastatic (stage IV) NSCLC.


Survival and quality of life are the primary endpoints of interest. Specifically, 1-year survival will be considered.


Evidence was selected and reviewed by 3 medical oncologists and the project coordinator of the Ontario Cancer Treatment Practice Guidelines Initiative. Drafts of this document have been circulated and reviewed by the Provincial Lung Disease Site Group (Lung DSG). The Lung DSG comprises medical and radiation oncologists, pathologists, surgeons, epidemiologists, a psychologists and a medical sociologist. There was no consumer participation in the development of this guideline.


There were 3 meta-analyses available for review, but only 1 is discussed in detail. The largest and most comprehensive meta-analysis is based on 11 randomized controlled trials involving 1190 patients. The main comparisons were chemotherapy plus supportive care versus supportive care alone. The largest trial included in the meta-analysis involved randomization of 188 patients, and the smallest trial involved randomization of 32 patients. Only trials that had accrued patients between Jan. 1, 1965, and Dec. 31, 1991, were included in the analysis.


A survival benefit at 1 year was seen for the group of patients treated with chemotherapy (pooled hazard ratio 0.84; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.74 to 0.95). Subgroup analyses suggested a benefit for patients receiving chemotherapy regimens containing cisplatin (pooled hazard ratio, 0.73; 95% CI, 0.63 to 0.85; relative risk reduction for death, 27%; absolute improvement in 1 year survival, 10%; 95% CI, 5% to 18%; gain in median survival 1.5 months; 95% CI, 1 to 2.5 months). No benefit for patients treated with chemotherapy was found beyond 1 year. None of the randomized trials successfully measured quality of life using QOL assessment instruments. No firm conclusions can be made about the potential benefits (as measured by quality of life) that chemotherapy has for patients with metastatic NSCLC, as there are no available data from randomized controlled trials. However, several trials have documented relief of cancer-related symptoms, such as pain, cough, hemoptysis or dyspnea in the majority (approximately 70%) of patients.


In a subgroup analysis of trials that used long-term alkylating agents other than cisplatin (an approach no longer used as therapy in NSCLC) as part of the chemotherapy regimen, the meta-analysis demonstrated a detrimental effect of chemotherapy on survival (pooled hazard ratio, 1.26; 95% CI, 0.96 to 1.66, p = 0.09). In general, myelosuppression, sepsis resulting in hospitalization, drug-specific toxicities and death are potential complications of chemotherapy.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Loading ...
    Support Center