Levamisole and fluorouracil for adjuvant therapy of resected colon carcinoma

N Engl J Med. 1990 Feb 8;322(6):352-8. doi: 10.1056/NEJM199002083220602.


Twelve hundred ninety-six patients with resected colon cancer that either was locally invasive (Stage B2) or had regional nodal involvement (Stage C) were randomly assigned to observation or to treatment for one year with levamisole combined with fluorouracil. Patients with Stage C disease could also be randomly assigned to treatment with levamisole alone. The median follow-up time at this writing is 3 years (range, 2 to 5 1/2). Among the patients with Stage C disease, therapy with levamisole plus fluorouracil reduced the risk of cancer recurrence by 41 percent (P less than 0.0001). The overall death rate was reduced by 33 percent (P approximately 0.006). Treatment with levamisole alone had no detectable effect. The results in the patients with Stage B2 disease were equivocal and too preliminary to allow firm conclusions. Toxic effects of levamisole alone were infrequent, usually consisting of mild nausea with occasional dermatitis or leukopenia, and those of levamisole plus fluorouracil were essentially the same as those of fluorouracil alone--i.e., nausea, vomiting, stomatitis, diarrhea, dermatitis, and leukopenia. These reactions were usually not severe and did not greatly impede patients' compliance with their regimen. We conclude that adjuvant therapy with levamisole and fluorouracil should be standard treatment for Stage C colon carcinoma. Since most patients in our study were treated by community oncologists, this approach should be readily adaptable to conventional medical practice.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols / therapeutic use*
  • Carcinoma / mortality
  • Carcinoma / pathology
  • Carcinoma / therapy*
  • Colonic Neoplasms / mortality
  • Colonic Neoplasms / pathology
  • Colonic Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Female
  • Fluorouracil / administration & dosage*
  • Fluorouracil / adverse effects
  • Fluorouracil / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Levamisole / administration & dosage*
  • Levamisole / adverse effects
  • Levamisole / therapeutic use
  • Lymphatic Metastasis
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Patient Compliance
  • Postoperative Care
  • Random Allocation


  • Levamisole
  • Fluorouracil