A phase II study of high-dose epirubicin in ovarian cancer patients previously treated with cisplatin

J. B. Vermorken, A. Kobierska, B. Chevallier, F. Zanaboni, A. Pawinski, G. Bolis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: In vitro data demonstrated a dose-response relationship for doxorubicin in ovarian cancer cell lines. However, this dose-response question for anthracyclines has never been adequately addressed in ovarian cancer patients. A phase I study with epirubicin gave support to these in vitro findings and recommended a dose of 150 mg/m2 for phase II testing. Patients and methods: The present report concerns the final analysis of an EORTC-Gynecological Cancer Cooperative Group (GCCG) phase II study of high-dose epirubicin (HDE) in cisplatin-pretreated patients with epithelial ovarian cancer. A total of 100 eligible patients were included; 34 had progressed during first-line therapy (group 1), 17 had persistent disease after first-line therapy (group 2) and 49 had relapsed following an initial response to first-line therapy (group 3). All patients had measurable or evaluable disease, were aged <75 years, had a WHO performance status 0-2, had adequate vital organ function and gave consent. Epirubicin was administered by rapid i.v. infusion at a dose of 150 mg/m2 and given at three-week intervals. Escalation to 180 mg/m2 was to be carried out if white blood cell nadir count was > 2.0 x 109/1 and platelet nadir count was > 75 x 109/1. Results: A total of 361 HDE treatment cycles were administered, the median number per patient being 4. Of the 85 patients who received at least two cycles of protocol treatment, 26 (31%) did not have any dose modification, 23 (26%) had dose reduction, while 36 (43%) had the dose increased to 180 mg/m2, at least for one cycle. The response rate in all eligible patients was 20% (95% confidence interval 13%-30%), 15% in group 1, 12% in group 2 and 27% in group 3. Patients with a cisplatin-free interval of > 12 months responded in 41%. The median duration of response was nine months (range 19 weeks to 3 years). Main toxicities were myelosuppression (leucopenia, neutropenia), nausea, vomiting, alopecia and mucositis. There were three cases of excessive toxicity leading to early discontinuation of HDE treatment and in one patient this contributed to death. No serious cardiotoxicity was recorded. Conclusions: It is concluded that HDE is active in platinum-pretreated patients with epithelial ovarian cancer and should be further studied in first-line in combination with paclitaxel and a platinum compound.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1035-1040
Number of pages6
JournalAnnals of Oncology
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 2000


  • High-dose epirubicin
  • Ovarian cancer
  • Phase II

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cancer Research
  • Oncology


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