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Br J Cancer. 1998 Jun;77(12):2376-80.

A multicentre phase II study of carboplatin and prolonged oral etoposide in the treatment of cancer of unknown primary site (CUPS).

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  • 1Division of Medical Oncology, Toronto-Sunnybrook Regional Cancer Centre, Ontario, Canada.


Cisplatin-based combination chemotherapy is frequently used to treat patients with carcinoma of unknown primary site (CUPS). Response rates in the literature range from 12% to 26% and median survival from 5 to 7 months. The goal of this study was to evaluate the combination of carboplatin and prolonged oral etoposide in patients with CUPS, with the hope of minimizing toxicity but improving efficacy and convenience. Treatment consisted of carboplatin, 300 mg m(-2) on day 1, and oral etoposide 50 mg on days 1-20, every 4 weeks for up to nine cycles. A total of 33 patients were treated and all were evaluable for toxicity. Non-haematological toxicity was mild to moderate, with the exception of one case of grade 4 stomatitis. Grade 4 leucopenia was observed in eight (24%) patients and sepsis in four (12%), with two and possibly three treatment-related deaths. For the 26 patients evaluable for response, the response rate was 23% with responses lasting a median of 11 months (range 7-13 months), with one patient still responding at 12 months. An additional nine patients (35%) had stable disease. Median survival for all patients was 5.6 months (range 2 weeks to 33 months). The combination of carboplatin with prolonged oral etoposide has moderate activity similar to that of other platinum-based regimens and is a well tolerated, convenient, outpatient regimen. Dosing according to estimated creatinine clearance to achieve a carboplatin AUC of 6.0 mg ml(-1) min might have decreased the incidence of severe myelotoxicity without compromising the regimen's efficacy.

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