Comparison of prognostic factors in patients in phase I trials of cytotoxic drugs vs new noncytotoxic agents

Br J Cancer. 2003 Oct 6;89(7):1166-71. doi: 10.1038/sj.bjc.6601218.


The aims of this study were to identify prognostic variables for toxicity and survival in patients with cancer participating in phase I clinical trials and compare characteristics of those treated with cytotoxic chemotherapy (CT) and non-cytotoxic drugs (non-CT). Data were collected from 420 (114 CT, 306 non-CT) patients enrolled in 16 phase I trials (five CT and 11 non-CT trials) in one cancer centre. Analyses of all patients were used to compare treatment groups, identify predictive variables for toxicity and to estimate prognostic factors in overall survival (OS). These were used to develop a prognostic index (PI). Multivariate analysis found those patients with better performance status, fewer sites of metastases, baseline Hb>12 g dl(-1) and WBC or LDH in the normal range had significantly better OS. Male gender, platelet count <450 x 10(9) l(-1), high WBC or treatment with a non-CT phase I agent significantly reduced the chance of grade 3/4 toxicity. Overall survival was not significantly different between the CT and non-CT groups (260 vs 192 days, P=0.47) except for those with liver metastases (228 vs 137 days, P=0.02). Overall tumour response was 4.9% (95% CI: 2.7-7.0%). The PI identified three distinct patient groups with median survival of 321, 257 and 117 days. In conclusion, entry into a phase I trial of a non-CT drug is a safe option for heavily pretreated patients with cancer. The PI generated from these data can estimate the survival probability for patients entering phase I studies.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Antineoplastic Agents / administration & dosage*
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / metabolism
  • Clinical Trials, Phase I as Topic*
  • Disease-Free Survival
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Neoplasms / mortality*
  • Prognosis
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Survival Rate


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Biomarkers, Tumor