Background: Paclitaxel-carboplatin is used as the standard regimen for patients with advanced or metastatic nonsmall-cell lung cancer (NSCLC). This trial was designed to compare gemcitabine + carboplatin or gemcitabine + paclitaxel to the standard regimen. Patients and methods: A total of 1135 chemonaive patients with stage IIIB or IV NSCLC were randomly allocated to receive gemcitabine 1000 mg/m2 on days 1 and 8 plus carboplatin area under the concentration-time curve (AUC) 5.5 on day 1 (GC), gemcitabine 1000 mg/m2 on days 1 and 8 plus paclitaxel 200 mg/m2 on day 1 (GP), or paclitaxel 225 mg/m2 plus carboplatin AUC 6.0 on day 1 (PC). Stratification was based on disease stage, baseline weight loss, and presence or absence of brain metastases. Cycles were repeated every 21 days for up to six cycles or disease progression. Results: Median survival (months) with GC was 7.9 compared with 8.5 for GP and 8.7 for PC. Response rates (RRs) were as follows: GC, 25.3%; GP, 32.1%; and PC, 29.8%. The GC arm was associated with a greater incidence of grade 3 or 4 hematologic events but a lower rate of neurotoxicity and alopecia when compared with GP and PC. Conclusions: Non-platinum and non-paclitaxel gemcitabine-containing doublets demonstrate similar overall survival and RR compared with the standard PC regimen. However, the treatment arms had distinct toxicity profiles.
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