Gemcitabine, 5-fluorouracil, and leucovorin in advanced biliary tract and gallbladder carcinoma: a North Central Cancer Treatment Group phase II trial

Cancer. 2005 Jan 1;103(1):111-8. doi: 10.1002/cncr.20753.


Background: Gemcitabine has broad activity in a variety of solid tumors including biliary tract carcinomas. The authors evaluated 6-month survival, response, and toxicity associated with a combination of gemcitabine, 5-fluorouracil (5-FU), and leucovorin (LV) in patients with unresectable or metastatic biliary tract or gallbladder adenocarcinoma (ACA).

Methods: A 4-week course included 1000 mg/m2 gemcitabine by intravenous infusion over 30 minutes on Days 1, 8, and 15, 25 mg/m2 LV by intravenous push, and 600 mg/m2 5-FU by intravenous push after LV.

Results: Forty-two patients were enrolled in 6 months, 35 of whom had metastatic disease. Patients with biliary tract ACA included 24 with hepatic disease (19 patients had intrahepatic disease and 5 patients had extrahepatic disease) and 4 with disease in the ampulla of Vater. All patients were evaluable and received a median of 4 courses of treatment (range, 1-21 courses). Commonly occurring severe toxicity (NCI CTC Grade 3 or worse) included: dyspnea (four patients), nausea (four patients), fatigue (seven patients), thrombocytopenia (six patients), emesis (four patients), and diarrhea (four patients). Five partial responses (9.5%) occurred, 3 of which were sustained for > or = 8 weeks. No treatment-related deaths occurred. Thirty-two patients had disease progression and 38 died after a median follow-up of 20 months (range, 1.4-24 months). The median time to disease progression was 4.6 months (95% confidence interval [95% CI], 2.4-6.6%). The median survival period was 9.7 months (95% CI, 7-12%).

Conclusions: This combination regimen was manageable in patients with advanced biliary tract and gallbladder ACA. Of 42 patients, 24 (57%) survived > or = 6 months, satisfying the primary end point of the trial. The length of survival suggested that gemcitabine, 5-FU, and LV had benefit equivalent to gemcitabine alone.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Clinical Trial, Phase II
  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adenocarcinoma / drug therapy*
  • Adenocarcinoma / pathology
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols / adverse effects
  • Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols / therapeutic use*
  • Biliary Tract Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Biliary Tract Neoplasms / pathology
  • Cholangiocarcinoma / drug therapy*
  • Cholangiocarcinoma / pathology
  • Deoxycytidine / administration & dosage
  • Deoxycytidine / analogs & derivatives*
  • Female
  • Fluorouracil / administration & dosage
  • Gallbladder Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Gallbladder Neoplasms / pathology
  • Gemcitabine
  • Humans
  • Infusions, Intravenous
  • Injections, Intravenous
  • Leucovorin / administration & dosage
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Survival Analysis


  • Deoxycytidine
  • Leucovorin
  • Fluorouracil
  • Gemcitabine