Our aim was to study the activity and toxicity of the gemcitabine plus vinorelbine (Gem Vin) combination and to identify the optimal dose. Previously untreated patients aged < 70 years, with stage IV or IIIb (not candidates for radiotherapy) non-small cell lung cancer were eligible. Studied dose-levels of Gem Vin, administered on days 1 and 8 every 3 weeks, were (mg m–2): level I = 1000/25; level II = 1200/25; level III = 1000/30; level IV = 1200/30. A feasibility study was performed at each dose-level, followed by a single-stage phase II study. Dose-level IV was unfeasible because of grade 4 neutropenia. Overall, out of 126 patients enrolled in phase II studies, there were one complete and 32 partial responses (response rate 26%: 95% CI 18–34%). Response rates were 27.9%, 21.4% and 29.3% at levels I, II and III, respectively. The treatment was well tolerated. Toxicity was less frequent and severe at level I. Overall median survival was 33 weeks (95% CI 28–40). Descriptive quality of life analysis showed that patients with a worse baseline global health status score tended to drop out of the study earlier than those with a better score. Gem Vin is feasible at different doses. It is sufficiently active and well tolerated. A phase III study to compare the effect on quality of life of Gem Vin (level I) vs cisplatin-based chemotherapy is ongoing. © 2000 Cancer Research Campaig
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