Thalidomide is reported to suppress levels of several cytokines, angiogenic and growth factors including TNF-alpha, basic fibroblast growth factor (bFGF), vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and interleukin-6 (IL-6). The resulting anti-angiogenic, immunomodulatory and growth suppressive effects form the rationale for investigating thalidomide in the treatment of malignancies. We have evaluated the use of high-dose oral thalidomide (600 mg daily) in patients with renal carcinoma. 25 patients (all men; median age, 51 years; range 34-76 years) with advanced measurable renal carcinoma, who had either progressed on or were not suitable for immunotherapy, received thalidomide in an escalating schedule up to a maximum dose of 600 mg daily. Treatment continued until disease progression or unacceptable toxicity were encountered. 22 patients were assessable for response. 2 patients showed partial responses (9%; 95% CI: 1-29), 7 (32%; 95% CI: 14-55) had stable disease for more than 6 months and a further 5 (23%; 95% CI: 8-45) had stable disease for between 3 and 6 months. We also measured levels of TNF-alpha, bFGF, VEGF, IL-6 and IL-12 before and during treatment. In patients with SD > or = 3 months or an objective response, a statistically significant decrease in serum TNF-alpha levels was demonstrated (P = 0.05). The commonest toxicities were lethargy (> or = grade II, 10 patients), constipation (> or = grade II, 11 patients) and neuropathy (> or = grade II, 5 patients). Toxicities were of sufficient clinical significance for use of a lower and well tolerated dose of 400 mg in currently accruing studies.
Copyright 2001 Cancer Research Campaign