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BACKGROUND:Fifty percent of lung cancers arise in patients over 65 years old and 30% in those over 70. The aim of this study was to evaluate response, survival and tolerability of the combination carboplatin-gemcitabine in elderly patients with advanced non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). METHODS:Between May 1998 and December 2000, 88 patients were included. Median age was 74 (range 65-83). Treatment consisted of gemcitabine 1250 mg/m(2) (1000 mg/m(2) in the first six patients) on days 1 and 8, and carboplatin AUC=4 on day 1, every 21 days. Prognostic factors for survival were analysed. Performance status (PS) and symptoms were evaluated before and after three and six courses. RESULTS:A total of 400 cycles were administered (median of four per patient). WHO grades 3-4 toxicities were: neutropenia in 13% of the cycles, thrombocytopenia and anaemia in 4.5 and 14.7% of patients in any cycle. There was one treatment-related death. According to the intent-to-treat analysis, 33 patients achieved objective response, 33 had stable disease, and 22 had treatment failure (progression in 18 patients). Median and 1 year survival were 9 months and 34%, respectively. Median time to progression was 8 months. Only disease stage and PS showed independent prognostic value. Comorbidity and PS displayed no close correlation. Symptom improvement was seen as follows: pain (61.7%), dyspnea (50%), haemoptysis (80%), anorexia (62.5%) and asthenia (61.5%). CONCLUSIONS:The combination carboplatin-gemcitabine at these doses is feasible in elderly patients with advanced non-small cell lung cancer. Tolerability and toxicity are acceptable. Response rate and survival stand in the range of the most active regimens. Comorbidity and PS showed prognostic independence.

Original publication




Journal article


Lung cancer (Amsterdam, Netherlands)

Publication Date





345 - 354


Department of Oncology, Hospital Virgen de Los Lirios, Poli;gono de Caramanxel s/n, 03804 Alcoy, Spain.


Humans, Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung, Lung Neoplasms, Carboplatin, Deoxycytidine, Antimetabolites, Antineoplastic, Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols, Neoplasm Staging, Treatment Outcome, Survival Rate, Multivariate Analysis, Survival Analysis, Dose-Response Relationship, Drug, Aged, Aged, 80 and over, Middle Aged, Female, Male