Systemic therapy improves the survival and quality of life of patients with advanced stage non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). Several new therapeutic options have emerged for advanced NSCLC, incorporating novel cytotoxic agents (taxanes, gemcitabine, pemetrexed) and molecular-targeted agents (erlotinib, bevacizumab). Efforts to improve the outcome of first-line therapy for advanced and metastatic NSCLC have primarily focused on the addition of targeted agents to platinum-based two-drug regimens. Bevacizumab, an antibody against vascular endothelial growth factor, is the first drug to demonstrate superior outcomes when added to systemic chemotherapy in advanced disease. Evaluation of the role of maintenance therapy following four to six cycles of first-line combination chemotherapy is ongoing. Both cytotoxic agents and targeted agents are suitable for evaluation in the maintenance setting. Promising results have been noted with single-agent paclitaxel as maintenance therapy following four cycles of combination therapy with carboplatin and paclitaxel. Phase III studies are now under way to evaluate the roles of gemcitabine, pemetrexed, and erlotinib as maintenance therapies for patients who experience a response or disease stabilization after four cycles of combination chemotherapy. Whether this approach will be successful in extending the survival of a select group of patients remains to be seen.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Cancer Research