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Ann Oncol. 1999 Nov;10(11):1389-92.

Management of adenocarcinoma of unknown primary with a 5-fluorouracil-cisplatin chemotherapy regimen (CFTam).

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  • 1Medical Oncology Department, St. George's Hospital, London, UK.



Adenocarcinoma of unknown primary comprises up to 10% of metastatic malignant disease. With few exceptions this diagnosis carries a very poor prognosis of a few months with minimal survival advantage to chemotherapy. However there is the possibility that chemotherapy can improve symptom control and quality of life.


Forty-four patients with adenocarcinoma of unknown primary received CFTam chemotherapy regimen (5-FU 750 mg/m2/day by protracted infusion for five days, cisplatin 60 mg/m2 once and tamoxifen 20 mg daily on a 21-day cycle). Disease response and toxicity were collected and survival compared to patients who were not treated or who received different chemotherapy regimens.


Overall response to CFTam was 27% with a median duration of 10 months (range 4-26 months). The chemotherapy was well tolerated with no grade 4 non-haematological toxicity and only three patients (7%) grade 4 neutropaenia with only two (5%) patients developing sepsis. There were no toxic deaths. Performance status was maintained or improved in responders.


CFTam is a well tolerated chemotherapy regimen with similar efficacy to other regimens described in the treatment of adenocarcinoma of unknown primary. In the absence of a significant survival advantage there is a need to conduct randomised trials of chemotherapy versus best supportive care to quantify any improvement in quality of life or symptom control.

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