This Phase I study was designed to determine the maximally tolerated doses of paclitaxel (given as an outpatient 3-h infusion) plus carboplatin in advanced, untreated non-small cell lung cancer. Secondary objectives were to determine the response rate, response duration, and survival. Fifty-six patients were accrued, and all were evaluable for toxicity; 50 patients were assessable for response. Paclitaxel doses ranged from 135-250 mg/m2, whereas carboplatin dosing started at 250 mg/m2 and was escalated to 400 mg/m2. Patients received therapy on day 1 every 21 days for a maximum of six cycles. Prophylactic granulocyte colony-stimulating factor was not given initially but was allowed if grade 4 neutropenia developed. Neutropenia was the major toxicity observed (41% of patients; 16% of courses) and was dose related. However, febrile neutropenia was uncommon (4%), and no patient receiving growth factor developed subsequent grade 4 neutropenia. Only one patient developed grade 4 thrombocytopenia. No grade 4 neuropathy or grade 3 or 4 myalgias/arthralgias were reported. Grade 4 allergic reactions occurred in three patients (5%), and two patients sustained grade 4 cardiac toxicity (4%). Partial responses were observed in 13 of 50 patients (26%). One of 13 patients (8%) receiving paclitaxel at 135 mg/m2 and carboplatin (250-350 mg/m2) responded versus 12 of 37 patients (32%) receiving paclitaxel doses >/= 175 mg/m2 with carboplatin doses of 350-400 mg/m2. The median time to progression, median survival, and 1-year survival rates seemed to be dose related, with median times to progression of 6, 18, and 27 weeks; median survival of 13, 29, and 39 weeks; and 1-year survival rates of 15, 28, and 41% for the 135, 175-200, and 225-250 mg/m2 groups. We conclude that full doses of both paclitaxel and carboplatin can be given safely on an outpatient basis with 3-h paclitaxel infusions. Neutropenia is the most common toxicity; response rates and survival at higher dose levels were encouraging. Phase III trials to determine the optimal dose and infusion schedule of this combination are warranted, as are trials to compare paclitaxel/carboplatin to other active single agents or combination regimens.

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