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Paclitaxel and etoposide are two chemotherapy agents with broad cytotoxic activity and different mechanisms of action and resistance. Preclinical studies of their combined cytotoxicity have yielded conflicting results. We performed two sequential Phase II trials using different sequence schedules of paclitaxel and etoposide as first-line treatment in advanced non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). Forty-four patients with stage IIIB or IV NSCLC were included between July 1995 and September 1996. All patients received etoposide at 100 mg/m2, given as an i.v. infusion on days 1, 2, and 3. The first 20 patients (part A) also received paclitaxel at 175 mg/m2 as a 3-h infusion on day 1, immediately prior to etoposide. The subsequent 24 patients (part B) were given the same paclitaxel dose, but on day 4. Grade 3-4 granulocytopenia was seen in 70% of the patients in part A and in 37% of those in part B (P = 0.04). Twenty-five % of the courses in part A and 4% of the courses in part B were associated with granulocyte nadir < or =500/microl (P = 0.00006). No responses were observed in part A, although disease was stabilized in 14 patients (70%). In part B, there were two complete responses and seven partial responses, for an overall response rate of 37.5% (95% confidence interval, 21-58%). In conclusion, toxicity and antitumor activity of the paclitaxel/etoposide combination may be sequence dependent. Our findings suggest that etoposide followed by paclitaxel is well tolerated and has greater activity in NSCLC than concurrent administration.


Journal article


Clinical cancer research : an official journal of the American Association for Cancer Research

Publication Date





2723 - 2728


Medical Oncology Department, Hospital General Vall d'Hebron, Barcelona, Spain.


Humans, Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung, Lung Neoplasms, Paclitaxel, Etoposide, Antineoplastic Agents, Phytogenic, Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols, Treatment Outcome, Drug Administration Schedule, Adult, Aged, Middle Aged, Female