Application of pharmacokinetic modelling to the routine therapeutic drug monitoring of anticancer drugs

Fundam Clin Pharmacol. 2002 Aug;16(4):253-62. doi: 10.1046/j.1472-8206.2002.00086.x.


Over the last 10 years, proofs of the clinical interest of therapeutic drug monitoring (TDM) of certain anticancer drugs have been established. Numerous studies have shown that TDM is an efficient tool for controlling the toxicity of therapeutic drugs, and a few trials have even demonstrated that it can improve their efficacy. This article critically reviews TDM tools based on pharmacokinetic modelling of anticancer drugs. The administered dose of anticancer drugs is sometimes adjusted individually using either a priori or a posteriori methods. The most frequent clinical application of a priori formulae concerns carboplatin and allows the computation of the first dose based on biometrical and biological data such as weight, age, gender, creatinine clearance and glomerular filtration rate. A posteriori methods use drug plasma concentrations to adjust the subsequent dose(s). Thus, nomograms allowing dose adjustment on the basis of blood concentration are routinely used for 5-fluorouracil given as long continuous infusions. Multilinear regression models have been developed, for example for etoposide, doxorubicin. carboplatin, cyclophosphamide and irinotecan, to predict a single exposure variable [such as area under concentration-time curve (AUC)] from a small number of plasma concentrations obtained at predetermined times after a standard dose. These models can only be applied by using the same dose and schedule as the original study. Bayesian estimation offers more flexibility in blood sampling times and, owing to its precision and to the amount of information provided, is the method of choice for ensuring that a given patient benefits from the desired systemic exposure. Unlike the other a posteriori methods, Bayesian estimation is based on population pharmacokinetic studies and can take into account the effects of different individual factors on the pharmacokinetics of the drug. Bayesian estimators have been used to determine maximum tolerated systemic exposure thresholds (e.g. for topotecan or teniposide) as well as for the routine monitoring of drugs characterized by a very high interindividual pharmacokinetic variability such as methotrexate or carboplatin. The development of these methods has contributed to improving cancer chemotherapy in terms of patient outcome and survival and should be pursued.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antineoplastic Agents / administration & dosage
  • Antineoplastic Agents / pharmacokinetics*
  • Antineoplastic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Area Under Curve
  • Bayes Theorem
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Drug Monitoring
  • Humans
  • Models, Biological
  • Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Neoplasms / metabolism


  • Antineoplastic Agents