Pemetrexed as second-line therapy for advanced non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC)

Therapeutics and Clinical Risk Management. 2008 Jun;4(3):579-85. [Link]

Felip E, Rosell R.

Vall d’Hebron University Hospital Barcelona, Spain.


NSCLC accounts for 80% of all cases of lung cancer, which is the leading cause of cancer mortality. The majority of NSCLC patients present with advanced, unresectable disease, which remains incurable. In advanced disease, chemotherapy with platinum (cisplatin or carboplatin) in combination with a third-generation cytotoxic drug (vinorelbine, gemcitabine, paclitaxel, or docetaxel) can provide a modest improvement in survival without impairing quality of life. In chemotherapy-naïve, advanced, non-squamous NSCLC patients, the combination of bevacizumab with chemotherapy was shown to produce better outcomes than chemotherapy alone. Response rates of 20%-40% can now be expected, with a median survival of 8-11 months and a 1-year survival rate of 30%-40%. In second-line treatment, docetaxel has shown superiority to best supportive care in terms of survival and quality of life. A pooled analysis comparing docetaxel administered weekly versus 3-weekly found similar survival rates between the schedules and a non-significant reduction in febrile neutropenia for the weekly regimen. Pemetrexed, a multitargeted antifolate agent, has shown clear activity in several tumors, including mesothelioma and NSCLC. In a phase III trial, second-line treatment with pemetrexed demonstrated overall survival comparable to docetaxel, with a more manageable toxicity profile.

Keywords: pemetrexed, second-line therapy, NSCLC