Phase III randomized study of postradiotherapy chemotherapy with alpha-difluoromethylornithine-procarbazine, N-(2-chloroethyl)-N'-cyclohexyl-N-nitrosurea, vincristine (DFMO-PCV) versus PCV for glioblastoma multiforme

Clin Cancer Res. 2000 Oct;6(10):3878-84.


Although the efficacy of the nitrosourea-based combination chemotherapy procarbazine, N-(2-chloroethyl)-N'-cyclohexyl-N-nitrosurea, and vincristine (PCV) has been previously demonstrated in the setting of anaplastic/intermediate-grade gliomas, the benefit for glioblastoma patients remains unproven. In the current study, we sought to determine whether the addition of alpha-difluoromethylornithine (eflornithine), an inhibitor of ornithine decarboxylase, which has shown encouraging results in the setting of recurrent glioma patients, to a nitrosourea-based therapy (PCV) would constitute a more effective adjuvant therapy in the treatment of glioblastoma multiforme patients in the postradiation therapy setting. Following conventional radiation therapy, 272 glioblastoma (GBM) patients were randomized to receive either alpha-difluoromethylornithine-PCV (DFMO-PCV; 134 patients) or PCV alone (138 patients), with survival and time to tumor progression being the primary endpoints. The starting dosage of DFMO was 3.0 g/m2 p.o. q8h for 14 days before and after treatment with N-(2-chloroethyl)-N-cyclohexyl-N-nitrosurea; PCV was administered as previously described1. Clinical and radiological (Gadolinium-enhanced MRI) follow-ups were nominally at the end of each 6 or 8 week cycle (PCV at 6 weeks; DFMO-PCV at 8 weeks). Laboratory evaluations for hematologic and other adverse effects were at 2 week intervals. There was no difference in median survival or median time-to-tumor progression between the two treatment groups, as measured from day of commencement of postradiotherapy chemotherapy [MS (months): DFMO-PCV, 10.5; Overall survival, as measured from time of tumor diagnosis at first surgery, was 13.3 and 14.2 months at the median and 6.2 and 8.7% at 5 years, respectively, for the DFMO-PCV and PCV arms. The treatment effect was unchanged after adjustment for age, performance status (KPS), extent of surgery, and other factors using the multivariate Cox proportional hazard model. Adverse effects associated with DFMO consisted of gastrointestinal (diarrhea nausea/vomiting), cytopenias, and minimal ototoxicity (limited to tinnitus) at the dose range tested. The addition of DFMO to the nitrosourea-based PCV regimen in this phase III study demonstrated no additional benefit in glioblastoma patients, underscoring the resistance of glioblastoma multiforme tumors to alkylating agents. For patients with anaplastic (intermediate grade) gliomas, in which the previously demonstrated benefit of post-radiation chemotherapy is more substantial, the evaluation of DFMO-PCV vs. PCV is still ongoing and hopefully will yield more encouraging results.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Clinical Trial, Phase III
  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols / administration & dosage*
  • Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols / therapeutic use*
  • Brain Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Brain Neoplasms / mortality
  • Brain Neoplasms / radiotherapy*
  • Cisplatin / administration & dosage*
  • Cyclophosphamide / administration & dosage*
  • Disease-Free Survival
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Eflornithine / administration & dosage*
  • Female
  • Glioblastoma / drug therapy*
  • Glioblastoma / mortality
  • Glioblastoma / radiotherapy*
  • Humans
  • Lomustine / administration & dosage*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Procarbazine / administration & dosage*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Time Factors
  • Vincristine / administration & dosage*
  • Vindesine / administration & dosage*


  • Procarbazine
  • Vincristine
  • Lomustine
  • Cyclophosphamide
  • Cisplatin
  • Vindesine
  • Eflornithine

Supplementary concepts

  • DFMO-PCV protocol
  • PCV regimen