Weekly low dose epirubicin in elderly cancer patients

Dario Nicolella, Giuseppe Grimaldi, Giuseppe Colantuoni, Mario Belli, Giuseppe Frasci, John Perchard, Pasquale Comella

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Aims and background: The treatment of elderly patients with metastatic solid tumours is still a debated problem. Patients over 75 years are generally excluded from combination chemotherapy trials because of higher toxicity. Several clinical studies have shown that weekly low dose epirubicin is a well tolerated and effective treatment for elderly cancer patients (breast, prostate, lung). Methods: We report a study of patients aged between 75 and 85 years affected by metastatic anthracyclines-sensible carcinomas, to assess the tolerance of epirubicin given weekly at a dose of 25 mg/m2. Results: 25 patients (13 males, 12 females; ECOG P.S. 0-2) entered the study and were evaluable for side effects. One-hundred and ninety-six cycles of therapy have been administered. Side effects were never severe. Mucositis (9 patients), leucopenia (7 patients), anemia (5 patients) were usually of grade 1 or 2. Grade 1 cardiotoxicity (tachycardia) was observed in only one case. Grade 3 toxicity consisted of anemia (1 patient) and mucositis (1 patient), while grade 4 toxicity never occurred. Nineteen patients were evaluable for response: 0 CR, 4 PR (1 lung, 3 breast), 8 SD (3 lung, 3 breast, 2 prostate) have been observed. Compliance was encouraging and the majority of patients showed a decrease in symptoms and an improvement in performance status. Conclusions: Weekly low-dose epirubicin is a very well tolerated treatment in elderly cancer patients. In view of the negligible toxicity encountered, it could be of utility to test this regimen in patients aged 75 years or older, affected by anthracyclines-sensible metastatic tumors, also to assess activity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)369-371
Number of pages3
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Jul 1996


  • elderly tumors
  • epirubicin
  • weekly monochemotherapy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cancer Research


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