Modified schedules of DCF chemotherapy for advanced gastric cancer: a systematic review of efficacy and toxicity

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Combination of docetaxel, cisplatin, and 5-fluorouracil (DCF) is an active but not well-tolerated regimen for advanced gastric cancer (GC) with standard 3-weekly doses. Several modified schedules (mDCFs) have been designed to reduce acute toxicities and improve feasibility as first-line therapy in patients with metastatic GC. The objective of this systematic review was to evaluate overall survival (OS), progression-free survival (PFS), overall response rate (ORR), and grade (G) greater than or equal to 3 adverse event of mDCF chemotherapy in this setting. MEDLINE, SCOPUS, Embase, Web of Science, LILACS, CINAHL, Google Scholar, and the Cochrane Library were searched for studies with mDCF schedules in advanced GC. Pooled median OS, PFS, ORR (the primary endpoints), and G3 or G4 adverse events (secondary endpoints) were presented according to random effect model. Twenty-four studies were included for a total of 1311 patients, with weekly or biweekly (n=11) and reduced doses 3-weekly (n=13) schedules. The median pooled PFS and OS were 7.2 months [95% confidence interval (CI): 5.9–8.8] and 12.3 months (95% CI: 10.6–14.3), respectively. Among 23 studies with available data for ORR, the pooled result was 49% (95% CI: 43.4–54.4). The incidence of grade 3/4 neutropenia, thrombocytopenia, anemia, febrile neutropenia, stomatitis, diarrhea, nausea+vomiting, and neurotoxicity were 29.1, 5.6, 8.9, 7.6, 6.6, 4.9, and 9.9%, respectively. mDCF chemotherapy with splitted weekly or biweekly schedules, or reduced 3-weekly doses, is a very effective and well-tolerated regimen in metastatic GC. By providing a 50% ORR, such regimens may be particularly indicated for younger and fit patients for cytoreductive purposes (conversion therapy) or in case of symptomatic tumor burden.

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