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Docetaxel is the most active cytotoxic agent in hormone refractory prostate cancer. Preclinically docetaxel increases expression of thymidine phosphorylase, an enzyme responsible for activation of capecitabine to 5-fluorouracil resulting in increased antitumor activity. We assessed activity and safety of neoadjuvant docetaxel and capecitabine in patients with high risk prostate cancer.Patients with either clinical stage greater than T2, prostate specific antigen 15 ng/ml or more, or Gleason sum 8 or greater received 3 to 6 cycles of docetaxel (36 mg/m2 intravenously on days 1, 8 and 15) and capecitabine (1,250 mg/m2 per day orally divided twice a day on days 5 to 18) every 28 days, followed by local therapy. The primary end point was rate of 50% or greater prostate specific antigen decrease. Correlative studies included qualitative changes in histology, tissue thymidine phosphorylase and survivin expression, and CK18Asp396 (serum apoptosis marker).A total of 15 patients were treated, of whom 6 (40%) experienced a 50% or greater decrease in prostate specific antigen with infrequent diarrhea or hand-foot syndrome. Eleven patients underwent radical prostatectomy. There were no pathological complete responses and 4 patients demonstrated mild histological changes, including focal necrosis and vacuolated cytoplasm. While there was no discernable pattern of increased thymidine phosphorylase expression, 4 specimens showed decreased survivin expression, suggesting a possible mechanism for chemotherapy induced apoptosis. There was no correlation of prostate specific antigen response and survivin expression, and no increase in serum CK18Asp396.Neoadjuvant docetaxel and capecitabine is well tolerated but is not associated with significant pathological and prostate specific antigen responses.