Aims: 5-FU is the backbone of most regimens in digestive oncology. Administration of standard 5-FU leads to 15-30% of severe side effects, and lethal toxicities are regularly reported with fluoropyrimidine drugs. Dihydropyrimidine dehydrogenase (DPD) deficiency is a pharmacogenetic syndrome responsible for most cases of life-threatening toxicities upon 5-FU intake, and pre-treatment checking for DPD status should help to reduce both incidence and severity of side effects through adaptive dosing strategies.
Methods: We have used a simple method for rapidly establishing the DPD phenotype of patients with cancer and used it prospectively in 59 routine patients treated with 5-FU-based therapy for digestive cancers. No patient with total DPD deficiency was found but 23% of patients exhibited poor metabolizer phenotype, and one patient was phenotyped as profoundly deficient. Consequently, 5-FU doses in poor metabolizer patients were cut by an average 35% as compared with non deficient patients (2390 ± 1225 mg vs. 3653 ± 1371 mg, P < 0.003, t-test).
Results: Despite this marked reduction in 5-FU dosing, similar efficacy was achieved in the two subsets (clinical benefit: 40 vs. 43%, stable disease: 40 vs. 37%, progressive disease: 20% in both subsets, P = 0.893, Pearson's chi-square). No difference in toxicities was observed (P = 0.104, Fisher's exact test). Overall, only 3% of early severe toxicities were recorded, a value markedly lower than the 15-30% ones usually reported with 5-FU.
Conclusions: This feasibility study shows how simplified DPD-based adaptive dosing of 5-FU can reduce sharply the incidence of treatment-related severe toxicities while maintaining efficacy as part of routine clinical practice in digestive oncology.
Keywords: 5-FU; DPD deficency; adaptive dosing; digestive oncology; efficacy; toxicity.
© 2015 The British Pharmacological Society.