Background: Unresectable adenocarcinoma of the biliary tree are associated with a very poor prognosis. 5-fluorouracil (5-FU) combination regimens have produced objective response rates in approximately 10-20% of patients. Leucovorin increases the selective cytotoxicity of 5-FU. There also are encouraging reports of carboplatin in combination with 5-FU in other gastrointestinal tract malignancies.
Methods: Fourteen consecutive eligible patients were treated with a combination of carboplatin, 300 mg/m2, intravenously (i.v.) on Day 1 only and 5-FU, 400 mg/m2, i.v. with leucovorin, 25 mg/m2, i.v. on Days 1-4. All patients were required to have a histologically confirmed diagnosis and measurable disease. Patients were evaluated for response, survival, and toxicity.
Results: A total of 48 cycles of therapy were delivered. The median survival was 5 months. One patient achieved complete remission and two others partial remission, for a total response rate of 21.4%. Four additional patients had stable disease for a median duration of 4 months. The therapy was well tolerated, with moderate myelosuppression as the main dose-limiting toxicity.
Conclusions: The current combination regimen of leucovorin-modulated 5-FU with carboplatin is well tolerated with appropriate supportive care, produces significant objective responses in 21% of patients with biliary tree carcinoma, and should be considered for the treatment of this disease.