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  • Author: Aleš Mrhar x
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Open access

Renata Rezonja, Lea Knez, Tanja Cufer and Aleš Mrhar

Abstract

Background. Etoposide is a chemotherapeutic agent, widely used for the treatment of various malignancies, including small cell lung cancer (SCLC), an aggressive disease with poor prognosis. Oral etoposide administration exhibits advantages for the quality of life of the patient as well as economic benefits. However, widespread use of oral etoposide is limited by incomplete and variable bioavailability. Variability in bioavailability was observed both within and between patients. This suggests that some patients may experience suboptimal tumor cytotoxicity, whereas other patients may be at risk for excess toxicity.

Conclusions. The article highlights dilemmas as well as solutions regarding oral treatment with etoposide by presenting and analyzing relevant literature data. Numerous studies have shown that bioavailability of etoposide is influenced by genetic, physiological and environmental factors. Several strategies were explored to improve bioavailability and to reduce pharmacokinetic variability of oral etoposide, including desired and undesired drug interactions (e.g. with ketoconazole), development of suitable drug delivery systems, use of more water-soluble prodrug of etoposide, and influence on gastric emptying. In addition to genotype-based dose administration, etoposide is suitable for pharmacokinetically guided dosing, which enables dose adjustments in individual patient.

Further, it is established that oral and intravenous schedules of etoposide in SCLC patients do not result in significant differences in treatment outcome, while results of toxicity are inconclusive. To conclude, the main message of the article is that better prediction of the pharmacokinetics of oral etoposide may encourage its wider use in routine clinical practice.

Open access

Renata Rezonja Kukec, Iztok Grabnar, Tomaz Vovk, Ales Mrhar, Viljem Kovac and Tanja Cufer

Abstract

Background. Chemotherapy with platinum agent and etoposide for small-cell lung cancer (SCLC) is supposed to be associated with intermediate risk (10-20%) of febrile neutropenia. Primary prophylaxis with granulocyte colonystimulating factors (G-CSFs) is not routinely recommended by the treatment guidelines. However, in clinical practice febrile neutropenia is often observed with standard etoposide/platinum regimen. The aim of this analysis was to evaluate the frequency of neutropenia and febrile neutropenia in advanced SCLC patients in the first cycle of standard chemotherapy. Furthermore, we explored the association between severe neutropenia and etoposide peak plasma levels in the same patients.

Methods. The case series based analysis of 17 patients with advanced SCLC treated with standard platinum/etoposide chemotherapy, already included in the pharmacokinetics study with etoposide, was performed. Grade 3/4 neutropenia and febrile neutropenia, observed after the first cycle are reported. The neutrophil counts were determined on day one of the second cycle unless symptoms potentially related to neutropenia occurred. Adverse events were classified according to Common Toxicity Criteria 4.0. Additionally, association between severe neutropenia and etoposide peak plasma concentrations, which were measured in the scope of pharmacokinetic study, was explored.

Results. Two out of 17 patients received primary GCS-F prophylaxis. In 15 patient who did not receive primary prophylaxis the rates of both grade 3/4 neutropenia and febrile neutropenia were high (8/15 (53.3%) and 2/15 (13.3%), respectively), already in the first cycle of chemotherapy. One patient died due to febrile neutropenia related pneumonia. Neutropenic events are assumed to be related to increased etoposide plasma concentrations after a standard etoposide and cisplatin dose. While the mean etoposide peak plasma concentration in the first cycle of chemotherapy was 17.6 mg/l, the highest levels of 27.07 and 27.49 mg/l were determined in two patients with febrile neutropenia.

Conclusions. Our study indicates that there is a need to reduce the risk of neutropenic events in chemotherapy treated advanced SCLC, starting in the first cycle. Mandatory use of primary G-CSF prophylaxis might be considered. Alternatively, use of improved risk models for identification of patients with increased risk for neutropenia and individualization of primary prophylaxis based on not only clinical characteristics but also on etoposide plasma concentration measurement, could be a new, promising options that deserves further evaluation.