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Med Oncol. 2002;19(1):43-53.

Treatment of advanced gastric cancer with etoposide, folinic acid, and fluorouracil in the clinical setting: efficacy of therapy and value of serum tumor markers.

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Department of Medicine, University of Heidelberg, Germany.


The combination of etoposide, folinic acid, and 5-fluorouracil (5-FU) (ELF regimen) has been proved to be an active chemotherapy in patients with advanced gastric cancer. The aim of this study was to confirm the efficacy in the clinical setting and to correlate response with different parameters like serum tumor markers. We treated 60 patients with advanced gastric cancer with 120 mg/m2 etoposide, 300 mg/m2 folinic acid, and 500 mg/m2 5-FU, on d 1-3. The cycle was repeated on d 21. Objective response was obtained in 23% of all patients with measurable disease. Stable disease was obtained in 37%. The tumor-growth-control rate in patients with proximal carcinoma was significantly higher than in those with distal carcinoma (85% vs 48%, p = 0.04). Median survival for all patients was 8.0 mo (95% confidence interval [CI] 7.0-8.5). In responsive patients, survival was more than two-fold longer than in patients with progressive disease. The administration of ELF could be performed safely on an outpatient basis. Toxicity was rather mild. The most frequently elevated serum tumor marker was CA 72-4 (55% of the patients). An elevated level of carcinoembryonic antigen before treatment was significantly correlated with progressive disease. A more than two-fold elevation of at least one marker under treatment was significantly correlated to progressive disease (p < 0.002). A reduction of at least one marker under treatment was significantly correlated to tumor growth control (p < 0.00015). The results of the present trial confirm the efficacy and low toxicity of the ELF regimen in advanced gastric carcinoma. Serum tumor markers proved suitable parameters for assessing response to treatment.

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