Purpose: Although gene expression profiling is a promising diagnostic technique to determine the tissue of origin for patients with cancer of unknown primary site (CUP), no clinical trial has evaluated yet site-specific therapy directed by this approach compared with empirical chemotherapy. We therefore performed a randomized study to assess whether such site-specific therapy improves outcome compared with empirical chemotherapy in previously untreated patients with CUP.
Patients and methods: Comprehensive gene expression profiling was performed by microarray analysis, and an established algorithm was applied to predict tumor origin. Patients with CUP were randomly assigned (1:1) to receive standard site-specific therapy or empirical paclitaxel and carboplatin (PC). The primary end point was 1-year survival rate.
Results: One hundred thirty patients were randomly assigned and had sufficient biopsy tissue for molecular analysis. Efficacy analysis was performed for 50 and 51 patients in the site-specific therapy and empirical PC arms, respectively. Cancer types most commonly predicted were pancreatic (21%), gastric (21%), and lymphoma (20%). The 1-year survival rate was 44.0% and 54.9% for site-specific treatment and empirical PC ( P = .264), respectively. Median overall and progression-free survival were 9.8 and 5.1 months, respectively, for site-specific treatment versus 12.5 and 4.8 months for empirical PC ( P = .896 and .550, respectively). Median overall survival (16.7 v 10.6 months; P = .116) and progression-free survival (5.5 v 3.9 months; P = .018) were better for predicted more-responsive than less-responsive tumor types.
Conclusion: Site-specific treatment that was based on microarray profiling did not result in a significant improvement in 1-year survival compared with empirical PC, although prediction of the original site seemed to be of prognostic value.