Pharmacokinetics of anticancer drugs in children

Clin Pharmacokinet. 1987 Mar;12(3):168-213. doi: 10.2165/00003088-198712030-00002.


Interpatient pharmacokinetic variability normally observed in adults is often of even greater magnitude in paediatric patients because of age-related maturation of physiological processes responsible for drug disposition. Several antineoplastic agents have shown age-related changes, including alterations in volume of distribution, hepatic (doxorubicin, cyclophosphamide), and renal (bleomycin, methotrexate) clearances. These differences in pharmacokinetics as a function of age alter systemic exposure to chemotherapy, and may alter the efficacy and toxicity profile for standard doses of antineoplastic drugs. The relationship of systemic exposure to toxicity has been most clearly defined for methotrexate. Clinical monitoring of methotrexate serum concentrations, and adjustment of folinic acid dosages and duration of rescue based on methotrexate disposition is now routine. More recently, pharmacodynamic data have been published for high-dose methotrexate, epipodophyllotoxins, cisplatin, and cytarabine (cytosine arabinoside), indicating a relation between drug disposition and toxicity or efficacy. Collectively, these data suggest that the pharmacokinetics of many anticancer drugs in children is different from adults, and that variability in drug disposition may have an important influence on toxicity or efficacy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Antineoplastic Agents / metabolism*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Kinetics


  • Antineoplastic Agents