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Contribution of capecitabine for therapy of patients with gastroesophageal cancer: an update of recent phase III results

Authors Cen P, Tetzlaff ED, Ajani JA

Published 8 February 2008 Volume 2008:4(1) Pages 137—140


Putao Cen, Eric D Tetzlaff, Jaffer A Ajani

Department of Gastrointestinal Medical Oncology in the Division of Cancer Medicine at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX, USA

Background: Capecitabine, an orally administered fluoropyrimidines, is widely used in the treatment of multiple malignancies. It has been extensively evaluated in patients with gastroesophageal carcinoma. Since recent reviews have discussed phase I/II trials (Cancer 107:221–231, 2006; Drugs 67:601–610, 2007), we focus on the impact of the results of the most current phase III trials using capectiabine in the treatment of advanced gastroesophageal cancers, primarily in the first-line setting.

Methods: To find published phase III trials, Medline was searched for English-language clinical trials published from 1996 through June 2007 along with relevant abstracts presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology, and meetings of the European Cancer Conference and European Society of Medical Oncology. Only representative trials were chosen for this manuscript.

Results: The most frequently investigated combinations are capecitabine with taxanes, platinols, and camptothecins. Recent results of a large phase III trial (REAL-2) in untreated patients with gastroesophageal cancer suggest that capecitabine is a non-inferior substitute for intravenous 5-fluorouracil. These results of REAL-2 trial are substantiated by a smaller phase III trial. Previous analysis of multiple trials had suggested that capecitabine, when combined in doses lower than 1250 mg/m2 twice daily, consistently resulted in lower frequency of Grade 3 or 4 toxic effects.

Conclusions: Capecitabine provides much needed convenience to patients with gastroesophageal cancer. The recent data derived from two phase III trials confirm that capecitabine is a suitable substitute for intravenous 5-fluorouracil in patients whose swallowing is not greatly affected. Capecitabine remains a subject of further investigations in this group of patients with interest.

Keywords: capecitabine, gastroesophageal cancer, oral fluoropyrimidines

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