Docetaxel (Taxotere) as a single agent and in combination chemotherapy for the treatment of patients with advanced non-small cell lung cancer.
Docetaxel (Taxotere; Rhône-Poulenc Rorer, Antony, France) has high and reproducible single-agent activity in non-small cell lung cancer, inducing responses in nearly one third of patients treated first-line. As a second-line treatment, docetaxel is the only agent so far shown in randomized trials to prolong survival when compared with either vinorelbine or ifosfamide or best supportive care. When docetaxel is given on a weekly rather than once every 3 week schedule, the risk of neutropenia is reduced while activity appears to be maintained. The weekly schedule may prove to be a more favorable one for combination chemotherapy regimens. To date, docetaxel has been studied with other agents frequently using a once every 3 weeks schedule. Combinations of docetaxel with cisplatin, carboplatin, gemcitabine, or vinorelbine are generally well-tolerated. With all four combinations, the pooled response rates in phase II studies are approximately 40%. A phase II study of 51 patients treated with the combination of 100 mg/m2 docetaxel and 900 mg/m2 gemcitabine reported a 13-month median survival. In a randomized phase II trial comparing docetaxel/gemcitabine with docetaxel/cisplatin, the two regimens had comparable efficacy and toxicity. Response rates of up to 50% have been reported using docetaxel in conjunction with vinorelbine.