Maintenance therapy with pemetrexed versus docetaxel after induction therapy with carboplatin and pemetrexed in chemotherapy-naïve patients with advanced non-squamous non-small-cell lung cancer: a randomized, phase II study

Masato Karayama, Naoki Inui, Shigeki Kuroishi, Koshi Yokomura, Mikio Toyoshima, Toshihiro Shirai, Masafumi Masuda, Takashi Yamada, Kazumasa Yasuda, Takafumi Suda, Kingo Chida
Cancer Chemotherapy and Pharmacology 2013, 72 (2): 445-52

PURPOSE: The optimal strategy for maintenance chemotherapy is controversial. We evaluated the efficacy and safety of continuation maintenance with pemetrexed and switch maintenance with docetaxel in advanced non-squamous non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC).

METHODS: Chemotherapy-naïve patients with non-squamous NSCLC were enrolled in this randomized phase II study. Patients who achieved disease control after four cycles of induction therapy with carboplatin (AUC 6) and pemetrexed (500 mg/m(2)) were randomized to maintenance therapy with pemetrexed (500 mg/m(2)) or docetaxel (60 mg/m(2)). The primary endpoint was survival without toxicity, defined as the time from the initiation of maintenance therapy to the first date of any grade 3/4 toxicity or death due to any cause.

RESULTS: A total of eighty-five patients were enrolled in the induction phase, and 26 patients were assigned to the pemetrexed maintenance therapy and 25 patients were assigned to the docetaxel maintenance therapy. Survival without toxicity was significantly longer in the pemetrexed group (median 20.8 months, 95 % confidence interval (CI) 0.7-not estimable) than in the docetaxel group (median 0.5 months, 95 % CI 0.2-2.0, hazard ratio 0.36, 95 % CI 0.17-0.74).

CONCLUSIONS: Continuation maintenance with pemetrexed may be a feasible treatment option for patients with non-squamous NSCLC who have achieved disease control after induction therapy with carboplatin and pemetrexed. Switch maintenance with docetaxel may also be efficacious but frequently causes severe hematologic toxicity.

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