Purpose: A phase III, multicenter, randomized study compared conventional dosing of fluorouracil (FU) plus folinic acid with pharmacokinetically guided FU dose adjustment in terms of response, tolerability, and survival.
Patients and methods: Two hundred eight patients with measurable metastatic colorectal cancer were randomly assigned to one of two arms: arm A (104 patients; 96 assessable), in which the FU dose was calculated based on body-surface area; and arm B (104 patients; 90 assessable), in which the FU dose was individually determined using pharmacokinetically guided adjustments. The initial regimen was 1,500 mg/m(2) FU plus 200 mg/m(2) folinic acid infusion during a continuous 8-hour period administered once weekly. FU doses were adjusted weekly in arm B based on a single-point measurement of FU plasma concentrations at steady state until the therapeutic range (targeted area under the curve 20-25 mg x h x L(-1)) previously established in other studies was reached.
Results: An intent-to-treat analysis of the 208 patients showed the objective response rate was 18.3% in arm A and 33.7% in arm B (P = .004). Median overall survival was 16 months in arm A and 22 months in arm B (P = .08). The mean FU dose throughout treatment was 1,500 mg/m(2)/wk in arm A and 1,790 +/- 386 mg/m(2)/wk (range, 900 to 3,300 mg/m(2)/wk) in arm B. Toxic adverse effects were significantly more frequent and severe in arm A compared with arm B (P = .003).
Conclusion: Individual FU dose adjustment based on pharmacokinetic monitoring resulted in significantly improved objective response rate, a trend to higher survival rate, and fewer grade 3/4 toxicities. These results support the value of pharmacokinetically guided management of FU dose in the treatment of metastatic colorectal patients.