Purpose: The objective of this multicenter study was to compare the efficacy and toxicity profiles of a combination of 5-fluorouracil (5-FU) given by bolus injection together with intravenous leucovorin (LV) versus high-dose 5-FU in continuous infusion (CI) in the treatment of advanced colorectal cancer.
Patients and methods: A total of 306 patients were randomized to receive either 5-FU 425 mg/m2 given by bolus injection on days 1-5 plus intravenous (i.v.) LV 20 mg/m2 every four to five weeks or 5-FU 3.5 g/m2/week in a 48-hour CI. Therapy was continued until disease progression. Second-line chemotherapy was allowed in both arms.
Results: The response rates in 306 patients with measurable lesions were 19.2% (modulated arm) and 30.3% (CI arm, P < 0.05). The median progression-free survival times were 23.5 weeks (modulated arm) and 25 weeks (CI arm, P = NS). Median survival times were 42.5 weeks (modulated arm) and 48 weeks (CI arm, P = NS). There were no significant differences in grade 3-4 toxicity profiles but if we consider all grades we observed more mucositis in the modulated arm and more hand-foot syndrome in the CI arm.
Conclusions: In terms of response rate, the continuous infusion regimen was more effective than the modulated regimen. There was no significant difference in survival and time to progression, and none in grade 3-4 toxicity.