Optimizing chemotherapy for advanced non-small cell lung cancer: focus on docetaxel
Review articleOpen access

SummarySystemic chemotherapy with platinum-based combinations provides modest improvements in both survival and quality of life for patients with advanced non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). For first-line treatment of advanced NSCLC patients with a good performance status, the accepted standard of care is a platinum agent combined with docetaxel, paclitaxel, gemcitabine, vinorelbine or irinotecan. Several studies have attempted to identify an optimal platin-based regimen, however, all regimens offer some combination of clinical benefit with characteristic toxicities and no regimen appears clearly superior. Non-platinum regimens have also shown equivalent efficacy compared to platinum combinations, but again, none are clearly superior. Most recently, the existing standard of care is being amended to reflect the survival advantage gained from adding a new targeted agent, bevacizumab, to traditional platinum-doublet therapy for patients with non-squamous NSCLC. Docetaxel is the only agent currently approved for both first- and second-line treatment of advanced NSCLC. Multiple randomized clinical trials have established the efficacy of platin-docetaxel regimens for first-line treatment of advanced NSCLC. Improvements in various lung cancer related symptoms and global quality of life indices have also been noted with docetaxel-based regimens. Based on the efficacy of platin-docetaxel regimens in advanced disease, they are now being incorporated into the adjuvant and neoadjuvant treatment of early-stage disease.

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