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Cancer. 1996 May 15;77(10):1978-85.

Epirubicin, cisplatin, and protracted venous infusion of 5-fluorouracil for esophagogastric adenocarcinoma: response, toxicity, quality of life, and survival.

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  • 1Cancer Research Campaign Section of Medicine, Institute of Cancer Research, Sutton, Surrey, UK.



The results of chemotherapy for patients with esophagogastric carcinoma have generally been modest but regimens developed more recently have produced higher response rates, and rekindled interest in neoadjuvant chemotherapy. One such regimen is epirubicin, cisplatin, and 5-fluorouracil (ECF). This study evaluates its efficacy, toxicity, impact on quality of life (QL), and impact on survival in a large consecutive series of patients with metastatic and locally advanced disease (LAD).


Patients with histologically confirmed esophagogastric carcinoma were treated with ECF (epirubicin 50 mg/m2 and cisplatin 60 mg/m2 every 3 weeks with continuous infusion of 5-fluorouracil (5-FU) 200 mg/m2/d). Responses were evaluated with computed tomography (CT) scan and endoscopy. QL was assessed using the European Organization for Research and Treatment of Cancer QLQ-C30 questionnaire.


A total of 235 patients were treated, 173 with metastatic disease and 62 with LAD. The mean number of cycles delivered was 6 (range: 1-11) and patients were followed-up for a median of 8 months. Response was observed in 135 of 220 (61%) evaluable patients, with a complete response (C(R)), 11% of the patients and a partial response in 50% of the patients. Patients with moderately differentiated adenocarcinomas and LAD responded most favorably. Symptomatic improvement was achieved in the majority of cases (63-78% depending on the symptom). Toxicity was generally only mild to moderate, with severe non hematologic toxicity in less than 12% of the patients and only 6 (2.5%) treatment related deaths. QL assessment showed no significant negative impact on emotional functioning and good symptomatic control. Surgery following response to ECF was performed in 29 of the LAD patients, and in 19 cases (66%) a potentially curative resection was possible, with histologic CR in 32% of the patients.


ECF is a highly active regimen with acceptable toxicity in patients with esophagogastric adenocarcinoma. In a proportion of patients with LAD, chemotherapy enabled potentially curative surgery to be performed. The results justify further investigation of this regimen in a neoadjuvant setting.

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