Exploring the use of chronic low-dose oral etoposide in ovarian cancer: Is there a role for this "new drug" in the management of platinum-refractory disease?
Despite showing high objective response rates (70% to 80%) to cisplatin- or carboplatin-based chemotherapy, most patients with ovarian cancer ultimately die of complications of their disease. Etoposide, given either as a single agent or in combination with the organoplatinum compounds, has produced disappointingly low response rates in the salvage setting. Based on recent data that suggest chronic administration of oral etoposide is superior to single daily dosing every 3 to 4 weeks, and the failure of previous trials to evaluate etoposide's activity in cisplatin-resistant malignancies, we have begun a phase II trial of chronic, low-dose oral etoposide in patients with clinically defined, platinum-resistant ovarian cancer. Thus far, 11 patients have been entered into the study. Neutropenia, the most prevalent toxicity, has precluded several patients from receiving the full 20-day course of 50 mg/d. No responses to treatment have been observed in nine evaluable patients. The study continues to accrue patients. The final results of this study and other trials should help determine the efficacy of chronic low-dose oral etoposide administration in patients with ovarian cancer.