Background: More than 30% of cases of non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) arise in patients aged ≥ 70 years. The efficacy and safety of carboplatin-paclitaxel combination chemotherapy in elderly patients with advanced NSCLC were evaluated in a phase II trial. Methods: Twenty-five patients aged ≥ 70 years (median, 76; range, 70-83) with chemotherapy-naïve advanced NSCLC were enrolled between January 2001 and July 2003. Additional criteria included the presence of measurable lesions, an Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group performance status of 0 or 1, and adequate organ function. Patients received carboplatin at an area under the curve of 5 mg/ml/min and paclitaxel at 180 mg/m2 on the first day of consecutive 3 week periods. Results: The patients included four with stage IIIB, 19 with stage IV and two with recurrent disease. The median number of treatment cycles was three (range, 1-4). One complete response and six partial responses, yielding an objective response rate of 28%, were obtained. The median survival time was 12.3 months and the 1-year survival rate was 52%. Hematological toxicities of grade 3 or 4 included leukopenia (40%), neutropenia (68%) and anemia (4%). Non-hematological toxicities of grade 3 included arthralgia-myalgia (16%) and neuropathy (12%). The objective response rate for patients aged ≥ 75 years (n = 15) was 26%, and no evidence of excessive toxicity in these patients was apparent compared with those aged <75 years. Conclusion: The combination carboplatin-paclitaxel at these doses is a feasible treatment option with a favorable toxicity profile for fit elderly patients with advanced NSCLC.
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