A randomized study of inpatient versus outpatient continuous infusion chemotherapy for patients with locally advanced head and neck cancer

Cancer. 1989 Jan 1;63(1):30-6. doi: 10.1002/1097-0142(19890101)63:1<30::aid-cncr2820630105>3.0.co;2-m.


This study was designed to evaluate the safety, reliability, and patient acceptance of outpatient continuous intravenous infusion (CVI) chemotherapy. Twenty-two patients with locally advanced head and neck cancer received induction chemotherapy with methotrexate, cisplatin and a 5-day CVI of 5-fluorouracil (5-FU). Patients were randomized to receive the 5-FU portion of cycle 1 either by a standard inpatient CVI chemotherapy delivery device (standard pump) or by the Infusor (Baxter Healthcare Corporation, Deerfield, IL), a portable chemotherapy delivery system that provides a constant flow of drug over a period of 24 hours. For cycle 2, patients crossed over to the alternative drug delivery method. Patients receiving chemotherapy via the Infusor could choose to be either inpatients or outpatients. Daily plasma concentrations of 5-FU were determined during the first two cycles of chemotherapy. There was no significant difference in the mean steady state plasma 5-FU levels achieved with either drug delivery method (329.7 +/- 95.8 ng/ml for infusor cycles vs. 352.8 +/- 114.9 ng/ml for standard pump cycles). Clinical toxicities consisted primarily of mucositis for both methods of drug delivery. Eight patients declined to receive CVI chemotherapy as outpatients citing as reasons fear of malfunction of the device, inconvenience of the frequent clinic visits necessitated by daily monitoring of plasma 5-FU concentrations, and restrictions in daily home activities. Eleven patients underwent CVI chemotherapy via Infusor as outpatients. All reported outpatient CVI chemotherapy as convenient and effective and, when eligible, chose it again in subsequent cycles. A comparison of estimated costs revealed reductions in daily costs of +366.00 (+2,200.00 per cycle) for outpatient chemotherapy. Outpatient CVI chemotherapy is a reliable drug delivery method that was accepted by a majority of patients in this study. These factors may help to establish outpatient CVI chemotherapy as a viable alternative to hospitalization.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Ambulatory Care*
  • Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols / adverse effects
  • Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols / therapeutic use*
  • Attitude to Health
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / drug therapy*
  • Cisplatin / administration & dosage
  • Drug Administration Schedule
  • Fluorouracil / administration & dosage
  • Fluorouracil / blood
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Hospitalization* / economics
  • Humans
  • Infusion Pumps / economics
  • Infusions, Intravenous / economics
  • Methotrexate / administration & dosage
  • Patient Compliance
  • Random Allocation
  • Remission Induction


  • Cisplatin
  • Fluorouracil
  • Methotrexate