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J Clin Oncol. 2005 Jul 10;23(20):4553-60.

Systemic therapy for metastatic colorectal cancer: current options, current evidence.

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Division of Hematology and Oncology, University of North Carolina, 3009 Old Clinic Building, CB 7305, Chapel Hill, NC 27599, USA.


Combination chemotherapy regimens including irinotecan and oxaliplatin markedly improve response rate and prolong median survival over fluorouracil with leucovorin (FU/LV), and have supplanted FU/LV as the standard systemic approach for metastatic colorectal cancer. The recent availability of five active chemotherapeutic agents has doubled the median overall survival for metastatic colorectal cancer from 10 to 20 months, and though the optimal strategy for incorporation of all drugs is still unclear, current data support the use of chemotherapy doublets in first-line rather than sequential single-agent therapy. Multidrug regimens increase both response rate and the proportion of patients able to undergo potentially curative resection. In addition, as many as 20% to 30% of patients never receive second-line chemotherapy. When used as single agents, bolus and infusional FU/LV and capecitabine are similarly effective but have differing toxicity. Chemotherapy combinations that incorporate infusion of FU are less toxic and more effective than those using bolus FU dosing. Capecitabine is under study as an alternative dosing method for use in combination regimens; however, the optimal dose has not been defined and final safety and efficacy outcomes are being addressed in ongoing phase II and III investigations. Three combinations have shown excellent first-line efficacy in phase III trials--IFL with bevacizumab, FOLFOX, and FOLFIRI--but neither of these combinations is clearly superior. Sound clinical judgment must continue to guide treatment decisions while we await data regarding the optimal combination and sequence of fluorouracil, irinotecan, oxaliplatin, bevacizumab, and cetuximab.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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