Purpose: Optimal treatments for metastatic carcinoid tumor remain undefined, and the role of chemotherapy for symptomatic patients with progressive disease is uncertain.
Patients and methods: Two hundred forty-nine patients with advanced carcinoid tumors were randomized to either doxorubicin with fluorouracil (FU/DOX) or streptozocin with fluorouracil (FU/STZ). Patients crossed over to the dacarbazine (DTIC) treatment after disease progression following first-line treatment (either FU/DOX or FU/STZ), and 73 patients were assigned to one of these three treatments based on their previous treatment or on abnormal baseline cardiac or renal function.
Results: In the randomized group, there was no difference between FU/DOX and FU/STZ in response rates (15.9% v 16%) and progression-free survival (4.5 v 5.3 months). FU/STZ (24.3 months) was superior to FU/DOX (15.7 months; P = .0267) in median survival. The response rate of crossover DTIC treatment was 8.2%, with a median survival of 11.9 months. Hematologic toxicities were the major treatment-related toxicities for both FU/DOX and FU/STZ, and mild to moderate renal toxicity was reported in 40 (34.8%) of 115 patients in the FU/STZ arm.
Conclusion: Response to all three treatment regimens were modest. FU/STZ improved survival compared with the doxorubicin-based regimen, suggesting that the combination should be considered to be an active regimen of therapy when chemotherapy is judged to be an option for selected patients with carcinoid tumors.