Objective: to report the surgical facts of unresectable patients with locally advanced non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) treated in a phase I trial with concurrent weekly gemcitabine and radiotherapy who achieved a clinical downstaging so as to re-enter resectability. Materials and methods: from 3/99 to 11/00, 30 patients (ten stage IIIa, 16 IIIb and four IV) with histologically proven, unresectable NSCLC, were enrolled in this phase I trial. Gemcitabine was given weekly for 5 consecutive weeks as a 30-min intravenous infusion, at least 4 h before radiotherapy. Starting dose: 100 mg/m2. Maximum tolerated dose (MTD): 350 mg/m2. Radiotherapy total dose: 50.4 Gy (1.8 Gy/day) on primitive tumour and involved lymph nodes. Results: 27 out of 30 patients (90%) were evaluable for clinical restaging (three patients who decided to continue their treatment elsewhere have been excluded). A major clinical response (partial+complete response) was observed in 17 out of 27 cases (62.9%). Clinical complete response rate was 3.7% (1/27) while partial response rate was 59.2% (16/27). Nine patients (33.4%) showed a clinical stable disease and one a disease progression (3.7%). Fourteen patients re-entered resectability and were operated upon: seven lobectomies; four bilobectomies; two pneumonectomies and one explorative thoracotomy. Mean operation duration time was 112 min; mean blood loss was 390 cc. Thirty-day morbidity and mortality were nil. Mean post-operative hospital stay was 6.8 days. A slight increase in operational technical difficulty was encountered. Definitive histology showed a pathologic downstaging of 71.4% (10/14). In four patients, only microscopic neoplastic remnants were found. Conclusions: combined treatment with weekly gemcitabine and concurrent radiotherapy is feasible. In patients with advanced NSCLC who achieved a good clinical response and therefore were judged to be resectable, surgery was possible without any increase in thirty-day morbidity and mortality. Satisfactory pathologic results were obtained.
- Advanced non-small cell lung cancer
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