Background: Following the demonstration that vinorelbine improves survival and quality of life compared with best supportive care in elderly patients with advanced non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC), we started the three-arm prospective Multicenter Italian Lung Cancer in the Elderly Study (MILES) trial of vinorelbine, gemcitabine and gemcitabine+vinorelbine. Design: Within the randomized phase 3 trial, pilot single-stage phase 2 studies were planned for gemcitabine and for gemcitabine+vinorelbine. Eligible patients are aged 70 or more, with stage IV or IIIb (with metastatic supraclavear nodes or malignant pleural effusion) NSCLC. Single-agent gemcitabine is given at 1200 mg/m2 on days 1 and 8; in the combination, gemcitabine is given at 1000 mg/m2 and vinorelbine at 25 mg/m2, both on days 1 and 8, every 3 weeks. Results: As planned 49 patients were enrolled in each group. Median age was 74 in both groups. Two-thirds of patients had stage IV disease. The response rate was 18.4% (95% exact CI 8.8-32.0) with both treatments. With single-agent gemcitabine main toxicities were grade 4 thrombocytopenia and grade 2 hepatic toxicity, in one patient each, and grade 2 pulmonary toxicity in two patients. With gemcitabine+vinorelbine combination there were grade 4 neutropenia and thrombocytopenia (one patient each), grade 3 anemia requiring red blood cell transfusion (two patients), and grade 4 fever in two patients. Four patients, with severe cardiac comorbidities, suffered grade 3 heart toxicity with atrial flutter or fibrillation, followed by congestive heart failure responsive to treatment. Conclusion: Both single-agent gemcitabine and the gemcitabine+vinorelbine combination are sufficiently active and tolerable to allow continuation of the MILES study.
- Randomised phase II study
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