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J Immunother. 1999 Sep;22(5):407-14.

Hyperthermic antiblastic perfusion with alpha tumor necrosis factor and doxorubicin for the treatment of soft tissue limb sarcoma in candidates for amputation: results of a phase I study.

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First Department of Surgery, Regina Elena Cancer Institute, Rome, Italy.


To improve the therapeutic effectiveness of hyperthermic antiblastic perfusion (HAP), the association of recombinant tumor necrosis factor alpha (rTNF alpha), doxorubicin, and true hyperthermia (41 degrees C) was employed for the treatment of soft tissue limb sarcoma. A dose-escalation study according to Fibonacci's modified scheme was conducted, starting with a rTNF alpha dose of 0.5-3.3 mg. The doxorubicin doses (0.7 and 1.4 mg for the upper and lower limbs, respectively) and temperature level (41 degrees C) remained unchanged. Eighteen patients have been treated thus far: 9 males and 9 females of a mean age of 33 years (range: 24-71 years). The tumor was located in the upper limb in one patient and in the lower limbs in seventeen. Only 16 patients were evaluable, as 2 refused further treatment after the perfusion. In terms of local toxicity, a grade I limb reaction was observed in 3 patients, a grade II or III in 10 patients, and a grade IV in 5 patients, showing a strict correlation between the TNF dose and the grade of limb reaction. In fact, a grade III-IV limb reaction was observed in 66.6% of the patients treated with > 1 mg of rTNF alpha. The maximum tolerable dose in association with doxorubicin and true hyperthermia (41 degrees C) was 2.4 mg. Eleven patients showed a good pathological response (> 75%) and five patients showed a partial response (> 25%-< 75%). In no case was stable or progressive disease observed. The postperfusional tumor shrinkage permitted limb-sparing surgery in 75% of the patients, all of whom were candidates for amputation before HAP. No recurrences have been observed thus far. Two patients developed regional disease: one presented with a skip femur metastasis that disappeared after radiotherapy and systemic chemotherapy; the second developed regional node involvement, requiring a radical node dissection. Another patient had pulmonary metastases, 2 months after the HAP, which were resected. At a median follow-up of 12 months, all the patients are living without disease. The results of this phase I study suggest that the association of rTNF alpha, doxorubicin, and true HAP (41 degrees C) by regional perfusion is feasible and safe at a maximum tolerable rTNF alpha dose of 2.4 mg. However, because no correlation was found between the amount of rTNF alpha and the tumor response, 1 mg is recommended as the dose able to provide a high tumor necrosis rate and low local and systemic toxicity. This association appears to play an important role in the neoadjuvant treatment of soft tissue limb sarcoma.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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