BACKGROUND Since 2010, combination therapy with gemcitabine and cisplatin is the standard treatment for patients with biliary tract cancer (BTC) based on the ABC-02 trial. However, treatment after first-line progression is less clearly defined. We therefore retrospectively analyzed the efficacy of a 3-drug chemotherapy regimen in patients with advanced BTC.
METHODS Patients with advanced BTC treated with palliative chemotherapy between April 2000 and October 2005 at Regensburg University Hospital were reviewed retrospectively. We analyzed the efficacy and safety of an institutional standard 3-drug regimen consisting of irinotecan, gemcitabine and 5-FU (IGF). One cycle, lasting 21 days, included applications on days 1 and 8 consisting of 75 mg/m2 irinotecan i.v. for 90 min, 1,000 mg/m2 gemcitabine i.v. for 30 min and 2,000 mg/m2 fluorouracil (5-FU) for 24 h.
RESULTS A total of 12 histologically confirmed cases with gallbladder cancer and intrahepatic BTC were reviewed. Fifty percent of the patients (6/12) had been pretreated with other chemotherapies. Median progression-free survival was 9.4 months (1.5-21.5) and median overall survival was 17.2 months (2.5-24.3). Only neutropenia (8%) was observed as an NCI-CTC grade 3 toxicity. Anemia and leucopenia grades 1 and 2 were the most common side effects.
CONCLUSIONS The combination of IGF shows a promising survival benefit with manageable toxicity in patients with advanced BTC. Therefore, this regimen seems to be a feasible second-line treatment option for patients with rapid progression under first-line therapy with gemcitabine and cisplatin and with a good performance status.