Aim: 5-fluorouracil (5-FU) and its prodrug capecitabine are cardiotoxic. This retrospective study aimed to identify risk factors and to give practical measures to make such chemotherapy feasible if cardiotoxicity occur.
Method: Review of cardiotoxicity among 668 patients treated with 5-FU or capecitabine for gastrointestinal cancers.
Results: Cardiotoxicity occurred in 29 cases (4.3%). The number of cases according to cardiotoxicity CTC grades 2-4 for patients with and without pre-existing cardiovascular disease were none, 10, and 2 cases, and 3, 14, and no cases, respectively (P=0.16). In three patients intercurrent decrease of renal clearances to <30, 48 and 71 ml min(-1) led to markedly increased cardiotoxicity. Chemotherapy dose reduction to 70 or 50%, either alone or in addition to antiangina medication prevented cardiotoxicity during subsequent chemotherapy in nine (60%) and three (20%) cases out of 15 assessable patients (P=0.001), respectively. To abolish symptoms of cardiotoxicity, sublingual nitroglycerine was efficient for 15 patients and inefficient for two (P=0.001).
Conclusion: Cardiac and renal co-morbidity are risk factors for 5-FU induced cardiotoxicity. In this situation, rechallenge with modified 5-FU-based chemotherapy regimen supported by symptomatic medical treatment is feasible.