Background: More than 50% of brain metastases (BMs) occur in advanced non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) patients. Untreated patients with BMs have a poor prognosis with a median survival of 2 months. In most cases BMs are multiple and their optimal therapy is whole-brain radiation therapy (WBRT). The role of systemic therapies for these patients is still a matter for investigation due to concerns about the ability of these drugs to cross the blood-brain barrier (BBB). Cisplatin (CDDP) remains the backbone for medical treatment of NSCLC and fotemustine (FTM) is a nitrosurea able to cross the BBB. Methods: Patients with advanced NSCLC, ECOG performance status (PS) 0-1 and multiple BMs not amenable to surgery or stereotactic radiotherapy were treated with 2 cycles of FTM 80mg/m2 days 1, 8 and CDDP 80mg/m2 day 1, every 3 weeks followed by WBRT 30Gy (3Gy daily in 10 fractions). Radiological restaging was performed before WBRT to assess the role of chemotherapy both for cranial and extracranial disease. Patients with disease control (DC: complete response plus partial response) received 4 more cycles. To assess the basic activities of daily living (ADL), the Barthel ADL Index was used to score patients' performance every 2 cycles. The trial design provides a two-step evaluation according to the optimal two-stage design of Simon. In the first phase 29 patients were enrolled in order to verify if this schedule showed more than 25% response rate both for cranial and extracranial disease. If so, enrolment added up to a total of 81 patients. Results: After the first evaluation 4 out of 29 patients were excluded from the study (3 untreated/1 not included for administrative reasons). At the time of the planned interim analysis patient's characteristics were the following: median age 61 years (range 44-70), M/F. =16/9, adenocarcinoma 11, squamous 5, large cell 2, undefined NSCLC 7; PS 0/1 in 11/14 cases, median Barthel Index score was 20 [13-20]. Three (12%) partial responses were observed, 9 subjects (36%) with stable disease and 13 (52%) showing disease progression. These data did not satisfy the pre-planned hypothesis and the study was stopped. At the time of the first evaluation before WBRT 12/25 (48%) patients had a systemic DC in contrast with 15/25 (60%) patients with BMs DC. Chemotherapy was relatively well tolerated with a prevalence of asthenia as the most relevant specific toxicity while the haematological toxicity was mild. Conclusion: CDDP and FTM combined with WBRT do not represent a therapeutic option for patients with NSCLC. Therefore further studies to evaluate the combination of systemic treatments with WBRT are warranted.
- Advanced non-small cell lung cancer
- Brain metastases
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
- Cancer Research