In a phase I study we demonstrated the feasibility of a bi-weekly combination of paclitaxel 180 mg m-2 with cisplatin 60 mg m-2. In this study we further assessed toxicity and efficacy of this schedule in the treatment of advanced cancer of the oesophagus or the gastro-oesophageal junction. Patients received paclitaxel 180 mg m-2 administered over 3 h followed by a 3-h infusion of cisplatin 60 mg m-2. Patients were retreated every 2 weeks unless granulocytes were <0.75 × 109 or platelets <75 × 109. Patients were evaluated after three and six cycles and responding patients received a maximum of eight cycles. Fifty-one patients were enrolled into the study. The median age was 56 years (range 32-78). WHO performance status were: 0 (19 patients); 1 (29 patients); 2 (three patients). All patients received at least three cycles of chemotherapy and all were evaluable for toxicity and response. Haematological toxicity consisted of uncomplicated neutropenia grade 3 in 39% and grade 4 in 31% of patients. Five patients (10%) were hospitalised, three patients because of treatment related complications and two patients because of infections without neutropenia. Sensory neurotoxicity was the predominant non-haematological toxicity; grade 1 and 2 neurotoxicity was observed in 43 and 20% of patients, respectively. Response evaluation in 51 patients with measurable disease: complete response 4%, partial response 39%, stable disease 43% and progressive disease in 14% of the patients. The median duration of response was 8 months. The median survival for all patients was 9 (range 2-29+) months and the one-year survival rate was 43%. Four patients who received additional local treatment (two patients surgery and two patients radiotherapy) are still disease free after a follow-up of 20-29 months. This bi-weekly treatment of paclitaxel and cisplatin is well tolerated by patients with advanced oesophageal cancer. The toxicity profile of this regimen compares favourable to that of previously used cisplatin- and paclitaxel-based regimens. Trials are underway evaluating this bi-weekly regimen in a neo-adjuvant setting.

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British Journal of Cancer
Department of Surgery

Polee, M., Eskens, F., van der Burg, M., Splinter, T., Siersema, P., Tilanus, H., … van der Gaast, A. (2002). Phase II study of bi-weekly administration of paclitaxel and cisplatin in patients with advanced oesophageal cancer. British Journal of Cancer, 86(5), 669–673. doi:10.1038/sj.bjc.6600166