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Ann Oncol. 2000 Feb;11(2):183-8.

Response and palliation in a phase II trial of gemcitabine in hormone-refractory metastatic prostatic carcinoma. Swiss Group for Clinical Cancer Research (SAKK).



In a phase II trial, 43 patients with hormone-refractory prostate cancer were treated with gemcitabine at a dose of 1,200 mg/m2 over 2 hours (later decreased to 1,000 mg/m2 due to hematological toxicity) on days 1, 8 and 15 of a 28 day cycle.


Inclusion criteria were proven tumor progression after hormonal treatment and increased PSA levels, a WHO PS < or = 2, adequate bone marrow reserve, liver and renal function and age < or =, 80 years. Response criteria were based on PSA levels (CR: normalization of PSA, PR: > 50% decrease). Quality of life (QL) was assessed with the EORTC QLQ-C30 on day 1 of each treatment cycle and on day 8 of the first cycle (range of scales 0-100). Physician-rated pain intensity and use of pain medication were assessed at the same timepoints.


Hematological toxicity of gemcitabine led to a dose-reduction in 48% of all cycles. Three of forty-three patients (RR = 7%) showed a PSA response: one CR and three PR with time to treatment failure of 8.7, 6.6 and > or = 9.3 months. Seven patients (16%) had stable disease (NC) for a median duration of 7.1 months (range 6.1-11.7 months). There was one case with objective regression of lymph node metastases. Patients reported a considerably impaired health status/QL (n = 41, median = 50) and severe fatigue (n = 41, median = 55.6) at baseline, with no change under treatment. Pain (QLQ-C30) was also severe at baseline (N=41, median=50) but was improved at the end of cycles 1 (n = 33, median change = -16.7, P = 0.0002), 2 (n = 19, median change = -33.3, P = 0.0006), 3 (n = 14, median change = -16.7, P = 0.06) and 4 (n = 9, median change = -33.3, P = 0.04). Patient-rated pain and use of analgesics as combined endpoint yielded palliation for at least 8 weeks in 14 patients (32%). Nine of these patients showed at least stable disease (CR/PR or NC by PSA level), five indicated a benefit in spite of progressive disease.


Gemcitabine in the dose and schedule indicated above has a significant beneficial impact on pain in patients with hormone-refractory prostatic carcinoma despite its limited activity in terms of PSA response and considerable, especially hematological, toxicity.

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