Increasing single epirubicin doses in advanced soft tissue sarcomas

Massimo Lopez, Patrizia Vici, Luigi Di Lauro, Silvia Carpano

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: To evaluate the maximum-tolerated dose and the clinical efficacy of epirubicin in patients with advanced soft tissue sarcoma. Patients and Methods: Sixty-one patients were treated at three different epirubicin dose levels: 140 mg/m2 (six patients), 160 mg/m2 (52 patients), and 180 mg/m2 (three patients). Cycles were repeated every 3 weeks for a maximum of eight cycles. The first two dose levels proved to be feasible and safe without dose-limiting toxicity (DLT). Because the first three patients entering the third dose level experienced DLT, subsequent patients received the next lower dose level. Results: The overall response rate was 44% (95% confidence interval, ± 12%), with six complete (10%) and 21 partial (34%) responses. Responses seemed related to epirubicin dose level, because the response rate was 17%, 44% and 100% for the three dose levels (X2 test for trend, P = .02). Median response duration, median time to progression, and median overall survival were 10, 8, and 15 months, respectively. Myelosuppression was the most frequent side effect, with grade 3 or 4 neutropenia occurring in 79% of the patients; 31% of patients were febrile. Nonhematologic toxicity was mainly grades 1 and 2. The mean epirubicin dose-intensity was 49 mg/m2 per week. Conclusion: The third epirubicin dose level (180 mg/ m2) was the maximum-tolerated dose. The recommended drug dose for clinical use is 160 mg/m2 every 3 weeks with hematopoietic support. Single high-dose epirubicin is effective as first-line treatment and should be preferentially used whenever a high response rate is important to allow the resection of an otherwise unresectable disease or whenever it might result in a significant symptomatic benefit.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1329-1334
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Clinical Oncology
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Mar 1 2002

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cancer Research
  • Oncology


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