PURPOSE - We performed a phase I trial of protracted venous infusion (PVI) fluorouracil (5-FU) plus weekly gemcitabine with concurrent radiation therapy in patients with locally advanced pancreas cancer to determine the maximum-tolerated dose of gemcitabine that could be safely administered. We also sought to identify the toxicities associated with this treatment protocol.
PATIENTS AND METHODS - Seven patients with locally advanced pancreas cancer were treated with planned doses of radiation (59.4 Gy) and PVI of 5-FU (200 mg/m(2)/d) with gemcitabine doses of 50 to 100 mg/m(2)/wk.
RESULTS - Two of three patients at the 100-mg/m(2)/wk dose level experienced dose-limiting toxicity (DLT), as did three of four at the 50-mg/m(2)/wk dose level. One patient experienced a mucocutaneous reaction described as a Stevens-Johnson syndrome that was attributed to chemotherapy. Three patients developed gastric or duodenal ulcers with severe bleeding requiring transfusion. One patient developed severe thrombocytopenia lasting longer than 4 weeks. Three of the five episodes of DLT developed at radiation doses < or = 36 Gy.
CONCLUSION - Based on this experience, we cannot recommend further investigation of regimens incorporating gemcitabine into regimens of radiation with PVI 5-FU. The mechanism of this synergistic toxicity remains to be determined.