Background: Chemotherapy-induced diarrhea (CID) is a common side effect of a number of chemotherapeutic agents. Conventional therapy for severe CID with opioids or loperamide is moderately effective. A prospective trial was conducted using octreotide acetate for treatment of severe CID refractory to loperamide.
Patients and methods: Thirty-two patients with grade 2 and 3 CID refractory to loperamide were treated with octreotide at a dosage of 100 microg subcutaneously 3x/day for three days followed by 50 microg 3x/day for three days. Previous chemotherapy consisted of regimens containing fluorouracil, leucovorin, CPT-11, cyclophosphamide, methotrexate and cisplatin. Primary tumors were colorectal (n = 23), gastric (n = 3), and other cancers (n = 6).
Results: Complete resolution of diarrhea was obtained in 30 of 32 patients (94%); 5 within 24 hours, 14 within 48 hours, and 11 within 72 hours of treatment. Nineteen patients were treated as outpatients. Thirteen were hospitalized for a median of three days. Response was unaffected by age, gender, performance status, previous chemotherapy or primary tumor site. No side effects related to octreotide were observed.
Conclusions: Octreotide 100 microg subcutaneously 3x/day for three days is an effective, safe treatment for CID given primarily or as a second-line therapy after loperamide failure.