Sharyn D. Baker, PharmD

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Phase II Study of Docetaxel and Irinotecan in Metastatic or Recurrent Esophageal Cancer: A Preliminary Report

September 1st 2003

The outcomes for patients with metastatic or recurrent esophagealcancer are dismal, with 1-year survival rates of approximately 20%. Inthis phase II study, we studied the combination of docetaxel (Taxotere)and irinotecan (CPT-11, Camptosar) in patients with metastatic orrecurrent esophageal cancer. Eligible patients included those withhistologic or cytologic diagnosis of adenocarcinoma or squamouscancer of the esophagus or gastroesophageal junction who had receivedno previous chemotherapy for metastatic esophageal cancer. Previouschemotherapy in the neoadjuvant or adjuvant setting was allowed.Patients received irinotecan at 160 mg/m2 over 90 minutes followed bydocetaxel at 60 mg/m2 intravenously over 1 hour, with chemotherapycycles repeated every 21 days. Patients were reevaluated every twocycles. Of a planned 40 patients, 15 were enrolled, with 14 patientsevaluable for toxicity and 10 evaluable for response and survival. Thecombination of docetaxel and irinotecan resulted in a response rate of30%. An additional 40% achieved stable disease. The median survivalwas 130 days, with three patients still alive at the time of this analysis.The toxicities included 71% incidence of grade 4 hematologic toxicities,with 43% febrile neutropenia. One patient died of cecal perforationafter one cycle. There was no evidence of pharmacokinetic interaction,as systemic clearance of both drugs was similar to that seen after singleagentadministration. In conclusion, the regimen of docetaxel andirinotecan is active in metastatic or recurrent esophageal cancer.However, this combination chemotherapy regimen has an unacceptablerate of febrile neutropenia. This regimen needs to be modified toreduce the incidence of febrile neutropenia.