Purpose: The aim of this study was to investigate the therapeutic value and safety of third-line treatment with mitomycin-C (MMC) and capecitabine (Xeloda) in patients with advanced colorectal cancer pretreated with combination regimens including 5-fluorouracil (5-FU), folinic acid (FA) and irinotecan (CPT-11) or 5-FU, FA and oxaliplatin (L-OHP).
Patients and methods: A total of 21 patients (M/F 16/5, median age 60.0 years) with advanced colorectal cancer, all of whom had developed progressive disease while receiving or within 6 months of discontinuing two sequential chemotherapy lines with 5-FU, FA and CPT-11 or 5-FU, FA and L-OHP, were accrued to this study. At the time of their relapse or progression, cytotoxic chemotherapy, consisting of intravenous MMC 7 mg/m(2) on therapeutic day 1 plus oral capecitabine 1000 mg/m(2) twice daily on days 1-14, was initiated. After rest for 7 days, capecitabine 1000 mg/m(2) twice daily was administered on days 22-35 followed by 7 days rest. Treatment courses were repeated every 6 weeks unless there was evidence of progressive disease, unacceptable toxicity or patient refusal of treatment.
Results: All the patients were assessable for toxicity and 19 for response. The median number cycles of chemotherapy was two (range one to four). Only 1 patient (4.8%) had a partial response, 4 patients (19.0%) had stable disease, and 14 patients (66.7%) progressed. The median follow-up period was 7.3 months and median time to progression was 2.6 months. The median overall survival was 6.8 months. No toxic deaths occurred. Toxicities of third-line treatment were mild and manageable. As NCI/NIH common toxicity criteria, grade 3/4 anemia, neutropenia and thrombocytopenia occurred in two, one and one patients, respectively.
Conclusion: Our findings suggest that the combination of MMC and capecitabine in patients with advanced colorectal cancer pretreated with combination regimens including 5-FU, FA and CPT-11 or 5-FU, FA and L-OHP is safe. However, this regimen had a poor response rate and no definitive contribution to increasing patients' overall survival time. Further evaluation of other salvage regimens seems to be warranted.