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Gan To Kagaku Ryoho. 1996 Apr;23(5):535-48.

[Recent advance in chemotherapy for advanced colorectal cancer].

[Article in Japanese]

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  • 1Dept. of Clinical Chemotherapy, Cancer Institute Hospital, Japan.


Chemotherapy for advanced colorectal cancer is reviewed stressing the historical development of combination chemotherapy and the application of a new idea called biochemical modulation based upon a preclinical biochemical and molecular pharmacological rationale. While 5-fluorouracil (5-FU) is a key drug for more than three decades, many a combination chemotherapy with 5-FU and other drugs such as methyl-CCNU, vincristine, streptozocin, mitomycin C and so on has been studied extensively only to show no significant improvement compared with monotherapy with 5-FU. Recently, the mechanisms of 5-FU action have been recognized more in detail biochemically, and it enabled us to try the drug in a more optimal way. For example, bolus i.v. infusion of 5-FU can produce a response rate of around 10% to 15% at most for advanced colorectal cancer. On the other hand, a more continuous mode of i.v. infusion, typically known as protracted i.v. infusion lasting up to 6 weeks or more, can produce the response rate of up to 40%. The difference underlying the mechanisms of action in these typical two administrative methods is that the main target can be RNA-directed cytotoxicity in the bolus type infusion and it can be shifted toward DNA-directed cytotoxicity in the continuous type infusion through the inhibition of thymidylate synthase (TS) enzyme activity which is relevant to DNA de novo synthesis. More importantly, investigations using clinical materials imply that DNA-directed cytotoxicity may be more relevant in a clinical setting, showing consistent findings between bench-top experiments and the clinical outcome. Given a precise knowledge about the mechanisms of 5-FU action, we could have developed a new type combination chemotherapy called biochemical modulation which manipulates non-cytotoxic agents or cytotoxic agents in non-cytotoxic level as modulators enhancing cytotoxicity of 5-FU biochemically. Among modulators, leucovorin (LV) has been shown to have a pivotal role in this field. Although no optimal combination dose schedule of LV is well known, randomized studies have shown improved activity of 5-FU modulation by LV over 5-FU alone for advanced colorectal cancer doubled the response rate by monotherapy (20-25%) vs 10-15%). New drugs are also promising with the response rate of 25% approximately obtained with a new camptothecin derivative CPT-11, and a pure TS inhibitor, Tomudex in phase II trials. It is also necessary to explore the clinical activity of the combination of low-dose cisplatin and 5-FU, chronotherapy, new dihydropyrimidine dehydrogenase inhibitors and new TS inhibitors. We are facing a new era with a new treatment concept of biochemical modulation or an understanding of optimal administrative methods with the key drug, 5-FU. Obviously, we still seek new agents or new laboratory rationales which enable us to extend the survival of patients with advanced colorectal cancer.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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