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Br J Cancer. 1997;76(11):1500-8.

Phase I and pharmacological study of sequential intravenous topotecan and oral etoposide.

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Department of Medical Oncology, Antoni van Leeuwenhoek Hospital/Netherlands Cancer Institute, Amsterdam.


We performed a phase I and pharmacological study to determine the maximum tolerated dose (MTD) and dose-limiting toxicities (DLT) of a cytotoxic regimen of the novel topoisomerase I inhibitor topotecan in combination with the topoisomerase II inhibitor etoposide, and to investigate the clinical pharmacology of both compounds. Patients with advanced solid tumours were treated at 4-week intervals, receiving topotecan intravenously over 30 min on days 1-5 followed by etoposide given orally twice daily on days 6-12. Topotecan-etoposide dose levels were escalated from 0.5/20 to 1.0/20, 1.0/40, and 1.25/40 (mg m-2 day-1)/(mg bid). After encountering DLT, additional patients were treated at 3-week intervals with the topotecan dose decreased by one level to 1.0 mg m-2 and etoposide administration prolonged from 7 to 10 days to allow further dose intensification. Of 30 patients entered, 29 were assessable for toxicity in the first course and 24 for response. The DLT was neutropenia. At doses of topotecan-etoposide 1.25/40 (mg m-2)/(mg bid) two out of six patients developed neutropenia grade IV that lasted more than 7 days. Reduction of the treatment interval to 3 weeks and prolonging etoposide dosing to 10 days did not permit further dose intensification, as a time delay to retreatment owing to unrecovered bone marrow rapidly emerged as the DLT. Post-infusion total plasma levels of topotecan declined in a biphasic manner with a terminal half-life of 2.1 +/- 0.3 h. Total body clearance was 13.8 +/- 2.7 l h-1 m-2 with a steady-state volume of distribution of 36.7 +/- 6.2 l m-2. N-desmethyltopotecan, a metabolite of topotecan, was detectable in plasma and urine. Mean maximal concentrations ranged from 0.23 to 0.53 nmol l-1, and were reached at 3.4 +/- 1.0 h after infusion. Maximal etoposide plasma concentrations of 0.75 +/- 0.54 and 1.23 +/- 0.57 micromol l-1 were reached at 2.4 +/- 1.2 and 2.3 +/- 1.0 h after ingestion of 20 and 40 mg respectively. The topotecan area under the plasma concentration vs time curve (AUC) correlated with the percentage decrease in white blood cells (WBC) (r2 = 0.70) and absolute neutrophil count (ANC) (r2 = 0.65). A partial response was observed in a patient with metastatic ovarian carcinoma. A total of 64% of the patients had stable disease for at least 4 months. The recommended dose for use in phase II clinical trials is topotecan 1.0 mg m-2 on days 1-5 and etoposide 40 mg bid on days 6-12 every 4 weeks.

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