Judith L. O’donnell, RN

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Gemcitabine and Irinotecan in Locally Advanced or Metastatic Biliary Cancer: Preliminary Report

September 1st 2003

Chemotherapy has had limited success in biliary tract cancer. Of thenewer agents, gemcitabine (Gemzar) and irinotecan (CPT-11, Camptosar)both have single-agent activity in patients with advanced disease.We conducted a phase II trial to study the efficacy and toxicity of thecombination of gemcitabine plus irinotecan in patients with locallyadvanced or metastatic biliary tract cancer. The study has enrolled 14patients with histologically or cytologically documented cancer of thebiliary tract or gallbladder with bidimensionally measurable disease,Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group performance status 0 or 1,decompressed biliary tree, and no prior exposure to chemotherapy.Gemcitabine at 1,000 mg/m2 and irinotecan at 100 mg/m2 were bothadministered on days 1 and 8, every 21 days. In patients who had lessthan grade 3 hematologic and less than grade 2 nonhematologic toxicityfollowing cycle 1, the dose of irinotecan was increased to 115 mg/m2 forsubsequent cycles. A total of 65 cycles of chemotherapy have beenadministered, with an average of 4.5 cycles per patient (range: 1 to 11cycles). The median treatment duration was 3 months (range: 0.75 to 8months). An objective partial response was determined radiographicallyin two patients (14%) while stable disease for periods ranging from 4to 11.5 months was noted in six patients (43%). Toxicity consisted ofgrade 3/4 neutropenia in seven patients (50%) with no episodes offebrile neutropenia, grade 3/4 thrombocytopenia in four (28%), grade3 diarrhea in two (14%), and grade 3 nausea in one patient. Thecombination of gemcitabine plus irinotecan appears to possess modestclinical activity, and it is well tolerated in patients with advanced biliarycancer. Patient accrual is ongoing to this study.