According to a new study published online in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, researchers have found that maintenance sunitinib after chemotherapy was safe and improved progression-free survival in patients with extensive-stage small-cell lung cancer (SCLC).

For the placebo-controlled, phase II study, researchers sought to evaluate the efficacy of maintenance sunitinib, a tyrosine kinase inhibitor used to treat various cancers, after chemotherapy for SCLC.

Researchers enrolled 144 patients and 138 of whom received cisplatin 80mg/m2 or carboplatin AUC 5 on day 1 plus etoposide 100mg/m2/day on days 1 to 3 every 21 days for four to six cycles.

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Then, 95 patients were randomly assigned to receive placebo or sunitinib 37.5mg daily until disease progression.

Results showed that for the 85 patients that received maintenance therapy, the median progression-free survival on maintenance was 2.1 months for placebo and 3.7 months for sunitinib (HR = 1.62; 70% CI: 1.27 – 2.08; 95% CI: 1.02 – 2.60; one-sided P = 0.02).

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The median overall survival from random assignment was 6.9 months and 9.0 months for placebo and sunitinib, respectively (HR = 1.28; 95% CI: 0.79 – 2.10; one-sided P = 0.16). In addition, three sunitinib patients achieved a complete response compared with zero placebo patients.

In regard to safety, the most common grade 3 adverse events with sunitinib were fatigue, neutropenia, leukopenia, and thrombocytopenia.


  1. Ready NE, Pang HH, Gu L, et al. Chemotherapy with or without maintenance for untreated extensive-stage small-cell lung cancer: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled phase II study – CALGB 30504 (Alliance). J Clin Oncol. 2015. [Epub ahead of print]. doi: 10.1200/JCO.2014.57.3105.