A new research [removed]study[/removed] conducted by Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, found significant differences in treatment regimens based on both age and geography for non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) patients. Merck KGaA partnered with TNS Healthcare for the study, which found that among patients with advanced NSCLC, monotherapy is used most often among those 70 years of age or older while combination therapies are given most often to younger patients. Additionally, differences in therapy choice were found by location, with a chemotherapy doublet plus a targeted agent far more common in the United States than in Europe.

"While chemotherapy doublets remain the standard regimen for first-line treatment of stage IIIB and IV NSCLC, there are substantial differences among regions in the doublets most often chosen and whether a targeted agent is concurrently administered," said lead author J.F. Vansteenkiste in a press release from TNS Healthcare. "For example, the preferred doublet in Europe is platinum plus gemcitabine, used in 29% of patients. In contrast, in the US and Japan, platinum plus taxanes is predominant, used in more than a quarter of American and more than half of Japanese patients."

"The most extensive use of doublets plus targeted agent is in the US, in contrast with Europe and Japan. Almost half of non-squamous cancer patients younger than 70 are being treated with these combinations in the US. Even among those older than 70, more than a quarter of patients are on chemotherapy doublets plus targeted agent," added Vansteenkiste.

To conduct the study Merck KGaA monitored 4,950 patients from May to mid-July 2008 in Spain, Italy, Germany, France, the UK, the United States, and Japan. TNS-recruited oncologists in the United States; oncologists, radiotherapists and pulmonologists in Europe; and pulmonologists and respiratory surgeons in Japan to participate.

The study was presented at the 2009 American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) meeting in Orlando, Fla.