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Br J Cancer. 2000 Feb;82(4):812-7.

Continuous low dose Thalidomide: a phase II study in advanced melanoma, renal cell, ovarian and breast cancer.

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Department of Medicine, Royal Marsden Hospital, London, UK.


To grow and metastasize, solid tumours must develop their own blood supply by neo-angiogenesis. Thalidomide inhibits the processing of mRNA encoding peptide molecules including tumour necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha) and the angiogenic factor vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF). This study investigated the use of continuous low dose Thalidomide in patients with a variety of advanced malignancies. Sixty-six patients (37 women and 29 men; median age, 48 years; range 33-62 years) with advanced measurable cancer (19 ovarian, 18 renal, 17 melanoma, 12 breast cancer) received Thalidomide 100 mg orally every night until disease progression or unacceptable toxicity was encountered. Three of 18 patients with renal cancer showed partial responses and a further three patients experienced stabilization of their disease for up to 6 months. Although no objective responses were seen in the other tumour types, there were significant improvements in patients' sleeping (P < 0.05) and maintained appetite (P < 0.05). Serum and urine concentrations of basic fibroblast growth factor (bFGF), TNF-alpha and VEGF were measured during treatment and higher levels were associated with progressive disease. Thalidomide was well tolerated: Two patients developed WHO Grade 2 peripheral neuropathy and eight patients developed WHO grade 2 lethargy. No patients developed WHO grade 3 or 4 toxicity. Further studies evaluating the use of Thalidomide at higher doses as a single agent for advanced renal cancer and in combination with biochemotherapy regimens are warranted.

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