BACKGROUND: The optimal treatment of large-cell neuroendocrine carcinoma (LCNEC) of the lung remains unclear. Here, our primary objective was to assess the efficacy of cisplatin-etoposide doublet chemotherapy in advanced LCNEC. Accuracy of the pathological diagnosis and treatment toxicity were assessed as secondary objectives.
PATIENTS AND METHODS: Prospective, multicentre, single-arm, phase II study with a centralised review of treatment-response and pathological data. Patients had untreated performance status (PS) 0/1 stage IV/IIIB LCNEC and received cisplatin (80 mg/m22 d1) and etoposide (100 mg/m22 d1-3) every 21 days.
RESULTS: Eighteen centres included 42 patients (mean age, 59 ± 9 years; 69% men; median of four cycles/patient). At least one grade-3/4 toxicity occurred in 59% of patients (neutropaenia, thrombocytopaenia, and anaemia in 32%, 17%, and 12%, respectively). The median progression-free survival (PFS) and overall survival (OS) were 5.2 months (95% confidence interval, CI, 3.1-6.6) and 7.7 months (95% CI, 6.0-9.6), respectively. The centralised pathologist review reclassified 11 of 40 (27.5%) patients: 9 as small-cell lung cancer, 1 as undifferentiated non-small-cell lung cancer, and 1 as atypical carcinoid. Survival data were not significantly changed by excluding the reclassified patients.
CONCLUSIONS: The pathological diagnosis of LCNEC is difficult. The outcomes of advanced LCNEC treated with cisplatin-etoposide doublets are poor, similar to those of patients with advanced small-cell lung carcinoma (SCLC).