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J Clin Oncol. 1999 Oct;17(10):3270-5.

Phase II trial of weekly irinotecan plus cisplatin in advanced esophageal cancer.

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Gastrointestinal Oncology Service, Department of Medicine, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York, NY 10021, USA.



To evaluate the response, toxicity, survival, and quality of life in patients with unresectable or metastatic esophageal cancer treated with weekly irinotecan and cisplatin.


Thirty-five patients with metastatic or unresectable esophageal adenocarcinoma (23 patients) or squamous cell carcinoma (12 patients) were treated. No prior chemotherapy was allowed. The majority of patients had metastatic and bidimensionally measurable disease (34 patients each [97%]). Patients were treated with cisplatin 30 mg/m(2) and irinotecan 65 mg/m(2), repeated weekly for 4 weeks, followed by a 2-week rest period. Treatment was recycled every 6 weeks. Degree of dysphagia relief was monitored, and quality of life was measured prospectively using the European Organization for Research and Treatment of Cancer Quality of Life Questionnaire C-30 and Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapy-General instruments.


Thirty-five patients were assessable for response and toxicity. Major objective responses were observed in 20 patients (57%; 95% confidence interval, 41% to 73%), including two complete responses (6%). Similar response rates were observed for adenocarcinoma (12 of 23 patients; 52%) and squamous carcinoma (eight of 12 patients; 66%). The median duration of response was 4.2 months (range, 1 to 8.8+ months). Median actuarial survival was 14.6 months (range, 1 to 15.2+ months). In 20 patients with dysphagia assessable at baseline, 18 (90%) noted either improvement or resolution of dysphagia on chemotherapy. Global quality of life improved in responding patients, primarily because of improvements in pain, emotional state, and relationships with family and friends. Toxicity was relatively mild and included only three patients (9%) with grade 4 neutropenia and four (11%) with grade 3 diarrhea. There were no treatment-related deaths.


The combination of weekly cisplatin plus irinotecan had significant activity in metastatic esophageal carcinoma and resulted in significant relief of dysphagia. The regimen was well tolerated, with acceptable myelosuppression and rare treatment-related diarrhea. Further evaluation of the combination of weekly irinotecan and cisplatin, including the addition of other agents to this regimen, is indicated.

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