Medline: 7683942

British Medical Journal 306(6880): 752-755, 1993.

Randomised comparison of combination chemotherapy plus supportive care with supportive care alone in patients with metastatic colorectal cancer.

Scheithauer W, Rosen H, Kornek GV, et al.


To compare the length of survival and quality of life in patients given combination chemotherapy in addition to supportive care and in patients given only supportive care. DESIGN: Randomised study. SETTING: Gastrointestinal oncology departments. PATIENTS: 40 previously untreated patients with histologically confirmed, measurable colorectal cancer that was locally recurrent or metastatic. INTERVENTIONS: Patients were allocated randomly to receive chemotherapy or only supportive care in a ratio of 2:1 according to performance status, metastatic disease of the liver, and weight loss in the six months before entering the study. Chemotherapy consisted of four week cycles of intravenous leucovorin (200 mg/m2/day) followed by 5-fluorouracil (550 mg/m2/day) and cisplatin (20 mg/m2/day), each drug being given on the first four days of the cycle. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Length of survival and quality of life score with an optimised functional living index-cancer scale.

Overall survival was significantly longer for patients given chemotherapy (11.0 months) than for those receiving supportive care alone (5.0 months; p = 0.006). Despite common association of chemotherapy with mild to moderate gastrointestinal symptoms, there was no significant difference between the two groups in global or subgroup quality of life scores. In patients with abnormal scores before treatment, quality of life seemed better in the chemotherapy arm.

In this sample of patients with disseminated colorectal cancer the chemotherapy regimen was an effective form of palliative treatment.

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Dr. G. Quade