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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Prolonged continuous infusion of fluorouracil with weekly bolus leucovorin: a phase II study in patients with disseminated colorectal cancer.

BACKGROUND: Biochemical modulation of bolus fluorouracil (5-FU) by addition of leucovorin to the treatment regimen has increased response in patients with disseminated colorectal cancer from fewer than 20% to more than 40%. In view of the short half-life of 5-FU and its cell cycle specificity, it may be that infusion rather than intravenous bolus injection would increase efficacy. Furthermore, the advent of safer indwelling intravenous catheters and pump technology, allowing home and ambulatory treatment, has made protracted infusion clinically feasible. To examine these questions, we conducted a phase I trial using protracted infusion of 5-FU by indwelling catheter and pump, with leucovorin given by bolus injection, and reported 40% partial response. PURPOSE: We have now initiated a phase II study of 5-FU given by prolonged continuous infusion with weekly bolus injections of leucovorin in previously untreated patients with measurable, disseminated colorectal cancer. METHODS: Forty-one patients were treated. The regimen consisted of treatment for 4 weeks with 5-FU at a dose of 200 mg/m2 daily as a continuous infusion by indwelling intravenous catheter and pump, followed by a 2-week rest and then by monthly cycles of 3 weeks of treatment and 1-week rest until disease progression. Leucovorin was given as a bolus injection of 20 mg/m2 at the beginning of each week of treatment with 5-FU. RESULTS: Nineteen (46%) of 41 patients had objective response: Three complete responses and 16 partial responses were seen. Overall, the median duration of response was 8 months. The median duration of survival was 16 months: 18 months for responders and 10 months for nonresponders. In general, toxic effects were mild and consisted primarily of stomatitis and palmar-plantar erythrodysesthesia (hand-foot syndrome). Neither grade 4 toxic effects nor treatment-related deaths were observed. The only serious side effects were catheter thrombosis (three patients) and catheter sepsis (one patient). CONCLUSION: We conclude that this safe regimen is one of the most effective for the treatment of disseminated colorectal cancer. IMPLICATIONS: The regimen should be tested prospectively against other regimens in use for this disease. It is currently included in a phase III study of the Southwest Oncology Group for this purpose. That study will assess quality of life as well as response rates and survival duration.[1]


  1. Prolonged continuous infusion of fluorouracil with weekly bolus leucovorin: a phase II study in patients with disseminated colorectal cancer. Leichman, C.G., Leichman, L., Spears, C.P., Rosen, P.J., Jeffers, S., Groshen, S. J. Natl. Cancer Inst. (1993) [Pubmed]
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