• topotecan;
  • gemcitabine;
  • nonsmall cell lung carcinoma



Multiple trials have been performed to evaluate second-line clinical chemotherapy in patients with advanced nonsmall cell lung carcinoma (NSCLC). However, no single agent or combination has demonstrated superior activity.


Patients with advanced NSCLC who had aready received one chemotherapeutic regimen were treated with topotecan (0.75 mg/m2 over 30 minutes, Days 1–5) and gemcitabine (400 mg/m2 over 30 minutes, Days 1 and 5) every 21 days.


Of 35 patients who were treated, 4 (11%) achieved a partial responses and 8 (23%) hadstable disease for at least four courses of treatment. The response rate for patients with refractory disease (progressing during frontline chemotherapy) was 18% (3 of 17) with 18% having stable disease for at least four courses of treatment. The median survival of the entire group was 7 months (range, 1.5–44 months) and 20% (7 of 35) of patients were alive 1 year from the initiation of topotecan and gemcitabine treatment. Patients with refractory disease had a median survival of 4½ months, with 6-month and 1-year survival rates of 47% and 18%, respectively. During Course 1, five patients (14%) developed Grade IV neutropenia and three patients (9%) developed Grade IV thrombocytopenia. Nonhematologic toxicity was relatively mild, with one patient developing Grade III side effects (fatigue) and eight patients (23%) developing Grade II nonhematologic side effects.


The combination of topotecan and gemcitabine demonstrated antitumor activity with a modest side effect profile in patients with advanced, previously treated NSCLC. Cancer 2002;95:1274–8. © 2002 American Cancer Society.

DOI 10.1002/cncr.10806