Purpose: Ovarian cancer (OC) patients experiencing progressive disease (PD) within 6 months of platinum-based therapy in the primary setting are considered platinum resistant (Pt-R). Currently, pegylated liposomal doxorubicin (PLD) is a standard of care for treatment of recurrent Pt-R disease. On the basis of promising phase II results, gemcitabine was compared with PLD for efficacy and safety in taxane-pretreated Pt-R OC patients.
Patients and methods: Patients (n = 195) with Pt-R OC were randomly assigned to either gemcitabine 1,000 mg/m2 (days 1 and 8; every 21 days) or PLD 50 mg/m2 (day 1; every 28 days) until PD or undue toxicity. Optional cross-over therapy was allowed at PD or at withdrawal because of toxicity. Primary end point was progression-free survival (PFS). Additional end points included tumor response, time to treatment failure, survival, and quality of life.
Results: In the gemcitabine and PLD groups, median PFS was 3.6 v 3.1 months; median overall survival was 12.7 v 13.5 months; overall response rate (ORR) was 6.1% v 8.3%; and in the subset of patients with measurable disease, ORR was 9.2% v 11.7%, respectively. None of the efficacy end points showed a statistically significant difference between treatment groups. The PLD group experienced significantly more hand-foot syndrome and mucositis; the gemcitabine group experienced significantly more constipation, nausea/vomiting, fatigue, and neutropenia but not febrile neutropenia.
Conclusion: Although this was not designed as an equivalency study, gemcitabine and PLD seem to have a comparable therapeutic index in this population of Pt-R taxane-pretreated OC patients. Single-agent gemcitabine may be an acceptable alternative to PLD for patients with Pt-R OC.