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High-dose epirubicin plus cisplatin was compared with the reference regimen of etoposide/cisplatin in small-cell lung cancer (SCLC). Four hundred two previously untreated patients with SCLC were randomized to receive etoposide 100 mg/m(2) on days 1-3 and cisplatin 100 mg/m(2) on day 1 or epirubicin 100 mg/m(2) and cisplatin 100 mg/m(2) on day 1 every 21 days for a total of 6 cycles. Patients were stratified according to treatment center and extent of disease (limited disease, n = 207; extensive disease, n = 195). Patients with limited disease were treated with thoracic radiation therapy after completion of chemotherapy, and those who exhibited a complete response were advised to receive prophylactic cranial irradiation. The primary endpoint was survival, and secondary endpoints were time to progression (TTP), response, toxicity, and costs. Patient characteristics were generally well balanced in the 2 arms, even though more patients in the epirubicin/cisplatin arm had > 5% weight loss and poor Karnofsky performance index compared with the etoposide/cisplatin arm. One hundred thirty-four patients (66.3%) in the etoposide/cisplatin arm and 126 (63.0%) in the epirubicin/cisplatin arm received all 6 planned cycles of chemotherapy. Response rate, TTP, and survival did not differ significantly between the 2 arms. Grade 3/4 neutropenia and toxic deaths occurred more frequently in the etoposide/cisplatin arm. Epirubicin/cisplatin showed a similar activity with a slightly lower toxicity profile than the reference regimen of etoposide/cisplatin. The epirubicin/cisplatin regimen may be recommended in the treatment of SCLC.

Original publication




Journal article


Clinical lung cancer

Publication Date





175 - 183


Hospital Universitario Miguel Servet, Zaragosa, Madrid Spain.


Humans, Carcinoma, Small Cell, Lung Neoplasms, Cisplatin, Epirubicin, Etoposide, Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols, Anti-Bacterial Agents, Erythrocyte Transfusion, Platelet Transfusion, Radiotherapy, Adjuvant, Hospitalization, Cranial Irradiation, Drug Administration Schedule, Prospective Studies, Dose-Response Relationship, Drug, Adult, Aged, Middle Aged, Female, Male