What is the role of adjuvant chemotherapy in non–small cell lung cancer (NSCLC)?

Updated: Jul 15, 2021
  • Author: Winston W Tan, MD, FACP; Chief Editor: Nagla Abdel Karim, MD, PhD  more...
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Adjuvant chemotherapy has been extensively explored in NSCLC. [210] A meta-analysis concluded that adjuvant cisplatin-based therapy improved survival in resected stage IB, II, and III NSCLC. The absolute benefit in survival at 5 years was 6.9%, but in subset analyses, the benefit in stage IB was not statistically significant. No impact of age, sex, histology, or type of surgery was noted. The CALGB 9633 study randomized resected stage IB patients to 4 cycles of carboplatin-paclitaxel versus observation.

This study initially showed improved overall survival at 4 years (71% vs 59%), but a longer term follow-up at 74 months showed no change in overall survival, except in patients with a tumor size greater than 4 cm. [211]

This contrasted with the results of a Canadian study that showed significantly improved 5-year survival for stage IB and II patients treated with adjuvant cisplatin-vinorelbine for 4 cycles. Patients with resected stage IB NSCLC should, therefore, be counseled about risks and benefits of adjuvant chemotherapy and may be offered either 4 cycles of platinum-based doublet chemotherapy, preferably cisplatin, or observation.

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