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Eur J Cancer. 2013 Nov;49(16):3387-95. doi: 10.1016/j.ejca.2013.06.038. Epub 2013 Jul 20.

Low-dose metronomic chemotherapy: a systematic literature analysis.

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  • 1Division of Medical Oncology, Odette Cancer Centre, Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, University of Toronto, Canada.


Low-dose metronomic (LDM) chemotherapy, the frequent and continuous use of low doses of conventional chemotherapeutics, is an emerging alternative to conventional chemotherapy. While promising tumour control rates and excellent safety profiles have been observed, there are no definitive phase III trial results. Furthermore, the selection of patients, drug dosages and dosing intervals is empirical. To systematically review the current state of knowledge regarding LDM chemotherapy, we searched the MEDLINE, EMBASE, CENTRAL and PubMed databases for fully published LDM chemotherapy trials. We calculated the relative dose-intensity (RDI, mg/m(2)/week) of each LDM regimen as compared to conventional maximum tolerated dose (MTD) dosages and the 'dosing-density' (DD, % of days with chemotherapy administration per cycle). Meta-regression was performed to examine factors associated with disease control rate (DCR; complete response (CR)+partial response (PR)+stable disease (SD)). Eighty studies involving mainly pretreated patients with advanced/metastatic breast (26.25%) and prostate (11.25%) cancers were retrieved. The most commonly used drug was cyclophosphamide (43%). LDM chemotherapy was frequently combined with other therapies (64.5%). Response rate (RR) and progression-free survival (PFS) were the most frequent primary end-points (24% and 19%). Mean RR was 26.03% (95% confidence interval (CI): 21.4-30.7), median PFS was 4.6months (interquartile range (IQR): 2.9-7.0) and mean DCR was 56.3% (95% CI: 50.9-61.6). RDI, DD and metronomic drug used were not associated with DCR. Grade 3/4 adverse events were rare (anaemia 7.78%, fatigue 13.4%). Thus, LDM therapy appears to be clinically beneficial and safe in a broad range of tumors. However, meta-regression analysis did not identify predictive factors of response.

Copyright © 2013 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


Anti-angiogenesis; Low-dose chemotherapy; Metronomic chemotherapy; Systematic review

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