Phase II study of thalidomide in the treatment of recurrent glioblastoma multiforme

J Neurooncol. 2001 Aug;54(1):31-8. doi: 10.1023/a:1012554328801.


Treatment options and prognosis remains poor for patients with recurrent glioblastoma multiforme. These tumors are highly vascularised and over express angiogenic factors such as vascular endothelial growth factor and may potentially be responsive to antiangiogenic therapies. We present the results of a phase II trial of Thalidomide, an antiangiogenic agent, in the treatment of recurrent glioblastoma multiforme. Patients were treated with 100 mg/day of Thalidomide, increased at weekly intervals by 100 mg to a maximum tolerated dose of 500 mg/d. Forty-two patients were enrolled, with 38 patients being assessable for response and 39 for toxicity. Two patients (5%) achieved a partial response and 16 (42%) had stable disease. The median survival was 31 weeks and the 1-year survival was 35%. Patients who had a partial response or stable disease had either a stabilisation or improvement in quality of life scores or performance status. Overall Thalidomide was well tolerated with no grade 4 toxicities and no treatment related deaths. The median maximum tolerated dose was 300 mg/day. The most common toxicity was fatigue to which patients developed tachyphylaxis. There was no correlation demonstrated with plasma vascular endothelial growth factor levels and response or survival. Thalidomide is a well-tolerated drug that may have some activity in the treatment of recurrent glioblastoma. Optimum dosing with antiangiogenic agents is currently under investigation. Chronic low dose therapy may be required to see conventional responses or improvements in time to progression. The dose required to achieve optimal biological impact may be better defined once we have established reliable surrogate endpoints.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Clinical Trial, Phase II

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Antineoplastic Agents / administration & dosage
  • Antineoplastic Agents / adverse effects
  • Antineoplastic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Brain Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Brain Neoplasms / pathology
  • Disease Progression
  • Endothelial Growth Factors / metabolism
  • Female
  • Glioblastoma / drug therapy*
  • Glioblastoma / pathology
  • Humans
  • Lymphokines / metabolism
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local / drug therapy*
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local / pathology
  • Quality of Life
  • Survival
  • Thalidomide / administration & dosage
  • Thalidomide / adverse effects
  • Thalidomide / therapeutic use*
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor A
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factors


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Endothelial Growth Factors
  • Lymphokines
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor A
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factors
  • Thalidomide