CAV Chemotherapy Regimen


The combination chemotherapy regimen known as CAV consists of the following drugs:

A Typical CAV Regimen (regimens should be tailored to the individual)

  • Cycle length: 21 days
  • Number of cycles: 4-6
  • Day 1: Cyclophosphamide (IV); doxorubicin and vincristine (IV push)

Vomit potential?

Moderately high

What CAV is effective for and why

The CAV regimen was, and in some circles may still be, the standard of care for the treatment of small cell lung cancer. It is not considered to have curative potential; rather, it has been used in the setting of palliation, i.e. making the terminally ill cancer patient a little more comfortable.

Several variations of this regimen have been used. They include CAVE (add etopiside), CEV (minus doxorubicin, add etopiside), and PACE (minus vincristine, add cisplatin).

Currently, the National Comprehensive Cancer Network regards CAV as a second- or third-line therapy after other therapies have failed.

Side effects of CAV

While each patient will have his or her own experiences with the side effects of the CAV regimen, it is not uncommon for patients to endure mouth sores, nausea and/or vomiting, susceptibility to infections, hair loss, fatigue, and in some cases, peripheral neuropathy. These side effects should all subside when one is finished with the regimen. Patients are encouraged to report all side effects to their oncologist or oncology team.


  • Boyiadzis, Michael M. et al. Hematology-Oncology Therapy. 2007. New York: McGraw Hill, Medical Publishing Division.
  • Perry, Michael C, Editor. Companion Handbook to the Chemotherapy Sourcebook. 1999. Baltimore; Williams & Wilkins.
  • Raez, Luis and Silva Orlando. Lung Cancer: A Practical Guide 2008. London: Elsevier Health.
  • National Comprehensive Cancer Network, Clinical Practice Guidelines in Oncology: Small cell lung cancer, V.1.2011

Significant studies and papers relevant to CAV


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