Oral doxifluridine plus levoleucovorin in elderly patients with advanced breast cancer

Emilio Bajetta, Laura Biganzoli, Carlo Carnaghi, Maria Di Bartolomeo, Ivo Spagnoli, Antonio Cassata, Emanuele Galante, Luigi Mariani, Corrado Gallo Stampino, Roberto Buzzoni

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


BACKGROUND. There currently is no agreement regarding the appropriate treatment of elderly patients with advanced breast carcinoma (ABC). Doxifluridine (5-dFUR), a prodrug of 5-fluorouracil, has been found to be effective in this entity, but its use is limited by neurotoxicity and cardiotoxicity that are not observed when the oral formulation is used. The objective of this Phase II trial was to evaluate the effectiveness and tolerability of oral 5-dFUR, biomodulated with levoleucovorin (l- leucovorin), in elderly patients (age > 70 years) with ABC. METHODS. 5-dFUR was administered orally at 600 mg/m2 twice daily for 4 consecutive days every 12 days, and oral l-leucovorin was administered as 25 mg 2 hours before each 5-dFUR administration. Response was assessed every five cycles according to the World Health Organization criteria. In the presence of response or stable disease, the patients were treated for a maximum of 15 cycles. RESULTS. Seventy-three eligible patients were enrolled, 27 of whom had been pretreated with chemotherapy and/or hormonotherapy; all were assessable for response and toxicity after a median follow-up of 15 months. The objective response rate was 26% (95% confidence interval, 17.4-45.4). Regression predominantly occurred in the presence of soft tissue involvement (skin, lymph nodes, and breast). The median time to response was 2 months (range, 1- 2 months) and the median response duration was 7 months (range, 2-17+ months). The median survival was 24 months (range, 2-42+ months). The treatment was very well tolerated, and the side effects were manageable and always reversible. CONCLUSIONS. The results of the current study show that 5- dFUR plus l-leucovorin, both given orally, are associated with excellent patient compliance. Although the results are suboptimal in terms of an objective response, this characteristic could allow 5-dFUR to be used in elderly patients considered unsuitable for 'aggressive' chemotherapy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1136-1141
Number of pages6
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Sep 15 1998


  • Breast carcinoma
  • Chemotherapy
  • Doxifluridine
  • Elderly
  • Fluoropyrimidine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cancer Research
  • Oncology


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