Objective: To date, no standard regimen for salvage chemotherapy after gemcitabine (Gem) failure has been defined for patients with advanced pancreatic cancer (PC). Oral capecitabine (Cap) has shown promising activity in first-line chemotherapy trials in PC patients. Methods: Within a prospective single-center study, Cap was offered to patients who had already received at least 1 previous treatment regimen containing full-dose Gem (as a single agent, as part of a combination chemotherapy regimen or sequentially within a chemoradiotherapy protocol). Cap was administered orally at a dose of 1,250 mg/m2 twice daily for 14 days followed by 7 days of rest. Study endpoints were objective tumor response rate by imaging criteria (according to RECIST), carbohydrate antigen 19-9 (CA19-9) tumor marker response, time to progression, overall survival and toxicity. Results: A median of 3 treatment cycles (range 1–36) was given to 39 patients. After a median follow-up of 6.6 months, 27 patients were evaluable for response: no complete or partial responses were observed, but 15 patients (39%) had stable disease. A CA19-9 reduction of >20% after 2 cycles of Cap was documented in 6 patients (15%). Median time to progression was 2.3 months (range 0.5–45.1) and median overall survival (since start of Cap treatment) was 7.6 months (range 0.7–45.1). Predominant grade 2 and 3 toxicities (per patient analysis) were hand-foot syndrome 28% (13% grade 3); anemia 23%; leg edema 15%; diarrhea 13%; nausea/vomiting 10%, and leukocytopenia 10%. Conclusion: Single-agent Cap is a safe treatment option for Gem-pretreated patients with advanced PC. Further evaluation of Cap in controlled clinical trials of Gem-pretreated patients with advanced PC is recommended.
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