Key data in the decision-making process regarding chemotherapy include the response rate, median duration of response, and median survival, as well as information on toxicity and quality of life.
A table (updated in 2015) that synthesizes response and survival data for several common cancers is available (see reference below).
Comments on the Table
- All data is for patients receiving first-line, commercially available, oral or IV chemotherapy and/or biological therapy.
- “Response rate” is the percentage of complete and partial responders in a given trial, where partial responders have a greater than 50% reduction of the measurable tumor for one month.
- Response is typically determined after 2 cycles of treatment (usually 1 cycle every 21-28 days).
- The data reflect midpoint ranges derived from available clinical trials; most of the data represent combination chemotherapy trials.
- The data represent the "best case" outcome from a population of patients in good enough health to participate in a clinical trial (e.g., ambulatory, good functional status).
- Median survival data includes both responders and non-responders.
These are data mostly from studies in high-income countries, but the information may also be useful for countries with other socioeconomic levels.
See reference for more information.
Adapted from Epperla N and Weissman DE. Chemotherapy: response and survival data. Palliative Care Network of Wisconsin. Fast facts and concepts #99. Internet. Accessed on April 28, 2018.