Small cell lung cancer (SCLC) disseminates early and has poor prognosis. However, SCLC is highly chemosensitive, thus chemotherapy has been established as the primary mode of treatment. Seventeen patients (15 males and 2 females) with median age of 60 years (range 49 to 74 years) were treated with combination cyclophosphamide 750 mg/m2, adriamycin 40 mg/m2, vincristine 1.4 mg/m2 on day 1 and etoposide (VP 16) 75 mg/m2 on days 1 to 3 (CAVE). This combination was given in 6 courses at 3 weekly intervals. The response to the chemotherapy and the quality of life of patients was assessed at the third cycle and after the completion of therapy (sixth cycle). The overall response rate was 76.4%; 52.9% achieved complete response and 23.5% had partial response. The survival rate at 6 months was 70.8% and 4 patients (23.5%) were still alive after 1 year of chemotherapy. The median survival after therapy was 36 weeks. There was a 30% overall improvement in the Karnofsky performance score at the completion of chemotherapy. This study illustrated that the CAVE regimen is effective and beneficial in the majority of our patients with small cell lung cancer.
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