Treatment of patients with small-cell lung cancer refractory to etoposide and cisplatin with the topoisomerase I poison topotecan

Author(s): Perez-Soler R, Glisson BS, Lee JS, Fossella FV, Murphy WK, et al.


Purpose: This study was designed to assess the anti-tumor activity of topotecan (TPT) in patients with small-cell lung cancer (SCLC) refractory to etoposide.

Patients and methods: Refractoriness to etoposide was defined as lack of response to etoposide-containing frontline therapy, or progression during or within 3 months of the last dose of etoposide-containing frontline or second-line therapy. Other eligibility criteria were presence of measurable disease, Zubrod scale performance status (PS) < or = 2, < or = two prior chemotherapy regimens, and adequate renal and liver function. TPT was administered at a dose of 1.25 mg/m2/d for 5 days over 30 minutes every 21 days.

Results: Thirty-two patients were registered, of whom 28 are fully assessable. All patients had been treated with frontline etoposide and cisplatin. Three patients (11%) achieved a partial remission (PR) (durations, 7, 8, and 19 weeks) and two (7%) achieved a minor response; five patients (17%) had stable disease and 18 (65%) had progressive disease. One of the three patients who achieved a PR had failed to respond to frontline cisplatin and etoposide. The overall median survival duration was 20 weeks. Grade 3 to 4 granulocytopenia and thrombocytopenia occurred after 70% and 31% of courses administered, respectively. No grade 3 to 4 non-hematological toxicities were observed. Grade 1 or 2 nonhematological toxicities (in percentage of patients) consisted of nausea (41%, 8%) and vomiting (25%, 11%), and alopecia (100%).

Conclusion: TPT at the dose and schedule used has modest antitumor activity in SCLC patients refractory to etoposide and cisplatin, which indicates that clinical resistance to the topoisomerase II poison etoposide does not confer cross-sensitivity to the topoisomerase I poison TPT. TPT is well tolerated, with myelosuppression of short duration being the most common and limiting toxicity.

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