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Research Article

Treatment of oat cell carcinoma of the lung: complete remissions, acceptable complications, and improved survival.

Br Med J 1978; 2 doi: (Published 01 July 1978) Cite this as: Br Med J 1978;2:10
  1. F A Greco,
  2. R L Richardson,
  3. S F Schulman,
  4. S Stroup,
  5. R K Oldham


    Oat cell lung cancer is a common disease which is usually disseminated by the time it is diagnosed. Treatment with cyclic combination chemotherapy (cyclophosphamide, doxorubicin, vincristine) administered concurrently with radiotherapy to the chest lesion and subsequent prophylactic brain irradiation was investigated in 36 patients with oat-cell carcinoma of the lung. Complete remissions occurred in 26 of the patients (15 of the 16 with limited-stage disease and 11 of the 20 with extensive-stage disease). Symptomatic improvement occurred in all patients. Twelve of the 16 patients with limited disease remained well and free of disease for over a year. The results were equivalent to those of a similar though more intensive regimen, but the toxicity was much less (there were no treatment-related deaths). Transient granulocytopenia with the risk of infection was the most serious complication. Survival and quality of life have been improved for all patients, particularly those with limited disease, who have previously responded poorly to treatment.