Chemotherapy with gemcitabine-containing regimens for locally recurrent or metastatic nasopharyngeal carcinoma
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BACKGROUND: Results from Phase II trials conducted in Asia have shown that gemcitabine alone (GEM) or with cisplatin (GC) is active among patients with metastatic or locally recurrent nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC). METHODS: At the Princess Margaret Hospital (PMH), Toronto, 32 patients with NPC were treated with GEM (n = 18) or GC (n = 14) from January 2000 to October 2001. Patients either received 1000 mg/m(2) GEM on Days 1, 8, and 15 every 28 days as a single agent, or with cisplatin (CG) given on day 2 at 70 mg/m(2). RESULTS: Most patients (91%) were of Southeast Asian ancestry and 29 (91%) had Type 2 (World Health Organization 1991 classification) nonkeratinizing histology. Sixteen of the GEM (89%) and five (36%) of the GC patients had received chemotherapy before entering the study. Median follow-up was 32 weeks (range, 2-97 weeks) for both groups. In the GEM group, there were five (28%) partial responses (PR) and one (6%) complete response (CR), giving an overall response rate of 34% (95% confidence interval [CI], 13.59). In the GC group, there were two (14%) CRs and seven PRs (50%), giving an overall response of 64% (95% CI, 35-87). Hematologic toxicity was dose limiting but uncomplicated. Nonhematologic toxicity included one patient with reversible reactivation of hepatitis, one with Grade 3 cisplatin-related sensory neuropathy, and three with cardiovascular events that were possibly related to chemotherapy. The median duration of response for the GEM and GC patients was 17 and 24 weeks and the 1-year survival rate was 48% (95% CI, 18-78) and 69% (95% CI, 40-99), respectively. Median survival has not been reached. CONCLUSIONS: Our study confirms that GEM is an active and tolerable drug for patients with NPC.
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