The role of new cytotoxic agents like gemcitabine has not yet been proven in the neoadjuvant settings. We designed a phase II study to test the feasibility of using gemcitabine and cisplatin before local treatment for stage III non-small cell lung cancer patients. Patients received three cycles of induction chemotherapy of gemcitabine (1000 mg m-2, days 1, 8, 15) and cisplatin (90 mg m-2, day 15) every 4 weeks before evaluation for operability. Operable patients underwent radical resection. Inoperable patients and patients who had incomplete resection received concurrent chemoradiotherapy with daily low dose cisplatin. All patients who did not progress after local treatment received three more cycles of adjuvant chemotherapy of gemcitabine and cisplatin. Fifty-two patients received induction treatment. Two patients had complete response and 31 patients had partial response (response rate 63.5%) after induction chemotherapy. Thirty-six patients (69%) were operable. Eighteen patients (35%) had their tumours completely resected. Two patients had pathological complete response. Median overall survival was 19.1 months, projected 1-year survival was 66% and 2-year survival was 34%. Three cycles of gemcitabine and cisplatin is effective and can be used as induction treatment before surgery for locally advanced non-small cell lung cancer patients.
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