Treatment for advanced-stage NSCLC generally includes the use of systemic chemotherapy as well as biologic therapies (targeted therapy) at later stages of the disease. However, in general, NSCLC is moderately sensitive to the currently available cytotoxic drugs, so the intention of chemotherapeutic treatment in the advanced setting is mainly palliative. Several treatment regimens are available, but in the first-line setting, treatment traditions differ both within countries and between various parts of the world. The role of taxaneplatinum chemotherapeutic combinations (mainly used in North America) has been questioned in the palliative setting since these combinations are known to cause neutropenia, skin and nail problems, as well as neurological toxicity. This review aims to summarize the current knowledge about the role of non-taxane therapy for patients with advanced NSCLC, with a focus on gemcitabine, vinorelbine, etoposide, pemetrexed, irinotecan, epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR)-inhibiting agents, angiogenesis inhibitors, and small molecules. The compilation of literature in the present review indicates that the use of non-taxane treatment for patients with advanced NSCLC has an anti-tumor effect that is not different from that which can be seen with various taxane combinations. Furthermore, the combination of cisplatin with gemcitabine or vinorelbine seems to be a most compelling regimen in the first-line setting because of its modest toxicity (when administered by experienced staff), favorable clinical response, and relatively low drug cost. It is also clear that the novel therapies (EGFR inhibitors and inhibitors of angiogenesis) that have been approved so far will be of great clinical value, however, their use will be restricted to small, well defined, subpopulations of patients. The great challenge now is to define the populations benefiting from these novel therapies. © 2006 Adis Data Information BV. All rights reserved.
2006. Vol. 5, no 4, 223-244 p.