Purpose. The incidence of adenocarcinoma of the lower third of the esophagus, esophagogastric junction, and gastric cardia has been rising in the face of limited treatment options for patients with metastatic disease. With the emergence of data to suggest that single agent docetaxel and irinotecan carry antineoplastic effects in this setting, we determined the response rate of these agents when given in combination. Patients and Methods. Forty-six patients with metastatic adenocarcinoma of the lower third of the esophagus, esophagogastric junction, and gastric cardia were evaluated. Patients received docetaxel 50 mg/m2/d and irinotecan 130 mg/m2/d intravenously at 21-d intervals with a tumor assessment after 2 cycles. Because of unacceptable toxicity among the first 13 patients, dosing was reduced to docetaxel 40 mg/m2/d and irinotecan 100 mg/m2/d intravenously at 21-d intervals. Results. The response rate for the entire cohort was 26% (95% confidence interval: 14%, 41%) with 12 confirmed partial responses. Five of these 12 responses were observed in patients treated at the higher chemotherapy dose. However, because 8 of 13 patients suffered grade 4 neutropenia and fevers, a dose reduction was incorporated into the protocol, and the remainder of the cohort was treated at the lower dose. All except 4 of the 15 observed grade 4 toxicities occurred at the higher dose, and these toxicities included nausea and vomiting, dyspnea, hypotension, dysrhythmias, and diarrhea in addition to neutropenia and fevers. There were no grade 5 toxicities. The median survival for the entire cohort was 7.3 mo. Conclusion. The combination of docetaxel and irinotecan provides modest antineoplastic activity among patients with adenocarcinoma of the esophagus, esophagogastric junction, and gastric cardia. Doses of docetaxel 40 mg/m2/d and irinotecan 100 mg/m2/d at 21-d intervals provide an acceptable safety profile, but higher doses appear to result in unacceptable toxicity.
ASJC Scopus subject areas