The combination of the selective cyclooxygenase-2 inhibitor celecoxib with weekly paclitaxel is a safe and active second-line therapy for non-small cell lung cancer: a phase II study with biological correlates

Giampietro Gasparini, Sabrina Meo, Giuseppe Comella, Simonetta Chiara Stani, Luigi Mariani, Teresa Gamucci, Antonio Avallone, Salvatore Lo Vullo, Giovanni Mansueto, Paola Bonginelli, Domenico Gattuso, Massimo Gion
Cancer Journal 2005, 11 (3): 209-16

PURPOSE: The selection of effective schedules of treatment for metastatic non-small cell lung cancer still remains a challenge for the oncologist. The present multicentric phase II study was designed in order to investigate the activity and safety of the combination of weekly paclitaxel and celecoxib as second-line treatment for non-small cell lung cancer. As a secondary endpoint, the possible correlation of biomarkers with objective response was investigated in a subset of patients.

PATIENTS AND METHODS: Patients with platinum-refractory non-small cell lung cancer and Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group performance status 0-2 entered the present phase II study. Paclitaxel was administered at the dose of 80 mg/m(2) i.v. weekly for 6 weeks, followed by a 2-week rest, and celecoxib, 400 mg p.o. b.i.d. administered continuously. A cycle consisted of 8 weeks of treatment. Determination of circulating vascular endothelial growth factor and interleukin 6 was performed at baseline and every two cycles.

RESULTS: Fifty-eight patients were enrolled: median age, 60 years (range, 30-77 years); male/female ratio = 44/14; performance status, 0, 31 patients; 1, 25 patients; and 2, two patients. Predominant histotype was adenocarcinoma (34 cases), and most patients had at least two sites of disease. According to the intent-to-treat analysis, 14/58 objective responses (24.1%) and 24/58 (41.3%) stabilizations of disease were observed, with a median duration of 4 months (range, 2-22+ months) and 5 months (range, 1-13 months), respectively. Median time to progression and median overall survival were 5 and 11 months, respectively. One-year survival was 42.5%. The main toxicity was neuropathy (4% of grade 3). Preliminary results suggest that decrease in serum vascular endothelial growth factor level is significantly associated with clinical response.

DISCUSSION: Combination of celecoxib and weekly paclitaxel is safe and active new regimen in pretreated non-small cell lung cancer. Toxicity appears not to be worsened by the addition of celecoxib. According to preliminary results, serum vascular endothelial growth factor level seems to be predictive of response, suggesting that it should be further investigated as a surrogate marker of response.

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